Weaving the web: How to network like a pro

26 Apr 2017

As an international city, Hong Kong is full of talent from all over the world. But how can we mere mortals gain access to these minds? The answer is networking. It’s about trying to get yourself out there for people to notice your own talents, and to keep up to date with the latest professional trends.

Business leader, author and entrepreneur Christine Comaford-Lynch perhaps summed it up best when she said: “Networking is marketing. Marketing yourself, marketing your uniqueness, marketing what you stand for.”

As with most things though, there are right and less right ways to go about building your network. Here are some practical and simple tips on the basic skills that are usually overlooked:

Perfect that handshake
A good handshake can kickstart a good connection. More than just a formality, it represents your openness and your honesty. A firm handshake can also reflect your confidence and your interest in building rapport. And it’s often is the first impression you make, so be sure to do it properly.

“The human handshake is one of the most crucial elements of impression formation and is used as a source of information for making a judgment about another person,” Professor Geoffrey Beattie, Head of Psychological Sciences at the University of Manchester indicates. Scientists have taken it to the next level with a mathematical formula for a perfect handshake. Next time, be sure to give a firm grip with enough eye contact!

Share interests and opportunities
Hobbies connect people easily. They also provide possibilities to arrange another meetups. Shared interests can create friendship circles and help you establish long-term connections. Be open about your hobbies and passions with new people. You might be surprised by how much you have in common.

Besides hobbies, don’t forget to share opportunities. What opportunities you provide to someone else? Are you looking for a certain kind of KOL (Key Opinion Leader) to complete a project? Maybe you’re looking for a high-quality vendor for a specific type of client? Sometimes your existing network can provide these solutions – you just have to ask.

Get that contact
Always bring your business cards wherever you go. You never know where your day might take you and who you might meet along the way. Leaving your contact details with someone you meet is perhaps the most important way to maintain a connection. There’s never any harm in adding one more number to your contact list.

From there, a simple follow-up is the best way to imprint yourself in the consciousness of the person you just met. This can simply be a short text message with a very brief self-introduction, or an email to start a deeper dialogue. As technology evolves, contacts come in a variety of formats – Facebook, LinkedIn, email, and others. Something worth considering is if you’re making yourself easy to be reached as well. The business card is a failsafe option.

Successful networking requires a level of personal PR skills in order to build good relationships with people you encounter. And while a strong network can make life easier, it’s not everything. Your attitude, responsibility and reputation always matter, too. Networking is marketing, so how are you going to market yourself?

“Never miss an opportunity to be fabulous” – Tina Seelig

In any setting, talk to as many people as you can. It's always better to build more connections than no connections at all

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