HOW TO NETWORK (no it's not a dirty word)
With the annual MIPCOM market approaching, and expected to be the Great Return, it is a good time to tackle the tricky topic of networking.
What is Networking? Simply put, it is forming commercial relationships for mutual benefit. No, it isn’t about making friends, though the commercial relationships that flourish and last are usually between people who like each other, and become work-friends, especially in our business.
The first step to being a good networker is to accept you’re doing it to find people and projects to work together on - and so is everyone else. So stop feeling awkward about it.
Now we’ve got that out of the way, here are some tips for successful networking:
everyone is shy
Networking is like dancing – almost everyone is shy and self-conscious about it, no one else looks like they are. And nor do you. Really. To everyone else, you look confident and popular. So don’t be afraid to approach someone and say hello.
make sure your name is visible!
Check your lanyard is the right way around (!) and not hidden inside your clothing, and feel free to tie a knot in it so it doesn't dangle by your belly-button. And don’t be afraid to hold it up if someone is trying to read it. That’s what they are for.
Everyone at MIP is a foreigner! So don’t be embarrassed to ask how to pronounce an unfamiliar name, or to explain how to pronounce your own, it’s actually a good way to break the ice.
read the card
Read a business card you’ve been handed, it contains useful information if you know how to interpret it. Then store it respectfully (I store them in my lanyard for the day), no one wants their personal details warmed by your bottom.
use the queues
Standing in a line for a session is an opportunity to chat to someone new - after all, you’ve both chosen to attend this one, that’s a start.
next time sit beside someone new
You can’t network with old friends, so next session you go to, sit beside someone you don’t know, you’re both there for same reason (ice-breaker) and you only have to chat till the lights go down and the music starts. If you’re really trapped, leave before the lights come up again!
ditch the pitch
Networking is about building relationships, not selling life insurance, so focus on who you’d like to work with in the future, and take the time to get to know them.
sum yourself up
Your life story is no doubt fascinating, but having a really short description prepared of who you are and what you do makes you more memorable.
focus on the person you’re with
The best networkers give the person they're with their full attention - the worst ones look over your shoulder to find someone they think is more useful. Which are you?
share your passion
Like ‘flu, enthusiasm is contagious, so don’t be afraid to be excited about your idea or company, people want to work with people who care about what they do.
listen more, talk less
networking is a conversation, not a monologue. Listening more than talking helps you find out what you have in common, and how you might work together in the future.
how can I help
The person you meet may not be able to help you right now, but if you can help them - e.g. with some advice, an introduction - then you’ve started a relationship that may benefit you both in the future.
take a selfie!
Come on, you’re at the seaside, a selfie can cement a friendship, and help you both to remember who you met and what you talked about.
write on their card
As soon as you can after you’ve met someone new, write on their card when and where you met and what you talked about, it will help you remember the encounter years later.
write it up
At MIP you meet people all day, so at the end of each day – without fail - note down who you met and what you talked about. And if you meet them again tomorrow it will help you remember their name.
That's pretty much it. A high proportion of my current international work-friends can be traced back to a chance encounter or introduction at a market or conference. To join them, come and find me at MIPCOM, I'm the confident-looking guy hoping someone will talk to him.