Networking – when are we taught this?


A crucial element of career progression is networking yet we don’t learn it anywhere!

What is an appropriate handshake? How do you deal with a dominate personality with a ‘bone crusher’ of a handshake?

How do you start a conversation at a networking event? How do you ‘break into’ a conversation? Crucially, how do you escape from someone who is boring/not a good contact?

There are some simple techniques which we share on Growing Talent’s Orientation Week:

Let’s take the handshake first. A good guide is to lock hands between the thumb and index finger, then shake twice. See below.

What if the person is dominant and squeezing the life out of your hand – a real ‘bone crusher’? A simple technique I’ve tried that works, whilst in the handshake, pull them into our personal space. Still smiling. I guarantee they will soon loosen their grip!

How do you break into a conversation at a networking event? Many people feel this is tricky but take a deep breath, remember it’s a networking event and therefore, expected people will talk to each other. Think about relevant questions that will give you an insight to the individual and possibly a foundation to build a professional relationship with. Example:

‘What were your thoughts on the event tonight?’ or “What was the highlight of tonight’s speakers for you?’ or ‘what part of the business are you from?” and so on. People love talking about themselves and this gives clear indications on whether they will be potentially useful in our professional careers.

Growing Talent Associates always ask how to get out of those difficult situations when they’ve been cornered by someone and want to get away. When I ask them for their ideas, I generally get a resounding ‘sorry, I must use the toilet’. ‘But what happens when you return’ I ask!

It’s much better to be honest with something like:

‘I’ve really enjoyed meeting you but I have a target to make three new contacts at this event and I’m going to leave you to do the same. Enjoy the rest of the evening”

Stop and think how you would like to be treated. This is a good technique for doing the right thing in a professional way.