Are you a networking novice or seasoned socialiser? At networking events, you may subject yourself to sales pitch after sales pitch, while you clasp your complimentary welcome drink. Or you might be on a mission to exchange as many business cards as you can, like a corporate version of Top Trumps.
Love it or hate it, networking is an extremely useful skill – whether you’re a start-up founder hoping to source new clients, or an established professional aiming to climb the career ladder.
Fortunately, JCI has introduced a new Networking course to their already impressive line-up. And even more fortunately, the Sheffield chamber hosted the session on the 26th October. The course was presented by Mark Smith, Business Growth Manager at Doncaster Chamber, JCI UK’s Finance Director, and networker extraordinaire.
(Above: Mark Smith presents JCI’s Networking course)
Mark stressed that successful networking shouldn’t be measured by the number of business cards you collect in one evening. Instead, you should focus on quality over quantity, and hone your existing network. Following up with your connections is also vital – aim to call or e-mail within 3 days of meeting your contact.
For the first exercise, we imagined that we were at an art gallery, admiring a minimalistic piece (i.e.: the blank, white wall of Showroom Cinema). Our objective: to gather as much information on the other delegates as possible, within 5 minutes. This task demonstrated the benefits of listening and enquiring, rather than trying to immediately pitch yourself and your skills. At the end of the exercise, we effortlessly recounted everything we’d learnt about another delegate.
The course was packed with great advice. For instance, when introducing yourself, explain how you offer a solution to the other person’s (potential) problem. If you work within the editorial sector, you might say, “I’m the one who makes sure your i’s are dotted and your t’s are crossed.”
As a JCI member, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to expand your network. This week, thousands of delegates are attending the JCI World Congress in Quebec, where they’ll forge new connections with other professionals from every continent. On a local scale, our socials are a great way to meet new people in a relaxed setting.
I can highly recommend the course. Initially, I thought that the session would be solely focused on creating connections within JCI, but the exercises and content are applicable to networking in any sector. If you’re interested in attending JCI’s Networking course, keep your eye on the national events calendar, or get in touch with your local president.
Outline for JCI’s Networking Course:
Networking is the JCI course for turning your personal contacts into lasting, trusted and productive connections and relationships. The course covers the principles and dynamics of networking, how to identify and use the opportunities when contacting people, and the follow up actions needed after meeting the person to keep adding value to the connection.
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Hannah Woodcock