How To Network
How To Do ‘The Mingling’
The J&B Hive Creative Social was part of the SOCreative Hub Summit which took place at Constitution Hill from 14-16 March 2019.
The 3-day event was hosted by Arterial Network & the British Council; gathering hub managers, creatives and entrepreneurs from as far as Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, England and Brazil.
Attendees could share their creative ideas and possibly expand their network. This was also the perfect opportunity to discuss this crazy thing called ‘Networking’ and how we can all get better at it.
Because firstly, we can all benefit from valuable connections, especially within our industries. But making these connections is usually not that easy .
So, how can we make the magic of mingling work for us?.
The Magic Word
As with any conversation, great networking is driven by good reason. A strong intention is the first step to building valuable connections.
We need to figure out what we want to achieve, and approach the networking situation with this clear goal in mind.
Once set, you are ready to mingle.
- Everyone has something valuable to offer.
- The aim is to find this value, and build relationships around it.
- It also helps to know how to close off conversations that aren’t going anywhere.
- This can be done to your personal taste, but politely. Relationships need to be preserved
While everyone ultimately has some value to offer, finding this value is one of the challenges of successful networking. Whether moving the conversation towards the goal mentioned above, or continuously developing a relationship – some value may only be discovered when acquaintances feel like they know you better.
Once your intention is solid and you’ve got your target in lock, general social skills come into play.
Suck at those? No need to worry.
See, while networking may be very similar to normal conversation, the two are still not quite the same thing.
What sets networking apart is that it’s usually motivated by business interests, which simply means that people you network with don’t (always) have to like you. The connection just has to be valuable for both parties involved.
For all the other times, when making a good impression wouldn’t hurt – here’s some last minute tips to carry before making your big move:
- Be authentic – a little character might be the basis of a great connection.
- Listen – you need to figure out what the other person’s interests are, especially in the connection.
- Business Cards – keep these handy to avoid that awkward ‘Give me your number’. These also share a taste of your business or whatever you’re trying to get the connect into.
- Follow up – if you do get a number/ contact, always follow up like you said you would. Even if you have to give someone bad news, being reliable enough to let them know can earn you their respect, as well as future opportunities.
- Scared? Bring a partner – this makes things less awkward and has the advantage of allowing you to easily approach people in couples or groups.
- Finally, be approachable – Someone could be hoping to connect with you too. Standing in the corner with your arms crossed will not make it easy to start a conversation with you. Try a welcoming smile, browsing the art or even visiting the bar.
With these in the bag, you should be well on your way to making some valuable connections – and telling other minglers that we all have the same 24 hours.
Do you have any important mingling tips, comments or experiences to share? Tell us on the comment section below. Also, here’s a cool article about The SOCreative Hub Summit.
Networking is serious business and we hope this article at least shared something that can help you get these connections that so many speak of.
Otherwise, stay hydrated. Drink responsibly. And mind your own…
– – – – –
Lungelo Hlela is a Digital Copywriter based in Johannesburg, South Africa. When he’s not writing for brands, most of his work includes themes about social issues, history and popular culture. Follow him @lungelosam for more of his existentialist ramblings and romantic ideals.