Media expert Orlaith Carmody gives her tips
on turning new contacts into new clients
Y ou leave the office late and happening is the one you create yourself seminars who want to get the conversation
arrive into a sea of faces in – the barrier of the hesitant step, the going without trying to be too clever.
the function room, everyone uncertain look and the deflated demeanor. n What is waiting for you when you get
standing around chatting back to your desk?
and you can’t see a single The shortest distance between two n How are you beating the recession?
person you know. So you make a beeline people is a smile, so get the head up, the n How many balls have you in the air at
for the loo, reapply the lipstick, hum a shoulders back and enter the room with a the moment?
little bit and come back out to try again. flourish, megawatt smile firmly in place. n Are you looking forward to the talk/
Sound familiar? Pause to have a good scan of the room, show/conference?
and to allow people to see you, then head n Was it a hassle making the time to get
Networking is fast becoming a core straight for an open group and join in. here today?
activity of the SME sector. People are
giving serious time to it as a way of And how do you know an open group? All of these give the person you
keeping moving, fighting the recession, Colleagues or a tight group of friends will are talking to a chance to share some
and picking up those all-important leads. be standing close together, facing into the information about themselves, their work,
You can just imagine the phone calls all group fully, their heads leaning slightly or even their home lives and give you the
over the country evening after evening towards the middle. An open group or one opportunity to connect on a personal
as the winter draws in; “I have this thing that has just assembled will be standing a level, which is what networking is all
I have to go to after work.” And the little further apart from each other, with about.
response, “Well I have this breakfast thing their bodies slightly to one side and their
I need to go to.” heads further apart. During the course of the conversation
you have expertly started, you are
The thing is usually a networking You can join these groups with ease working on Name, Fame, Game and
session: A gathering in a hotel sponsored once you crash-land right on in and don’t Same. You have to get the person’s name
by a company or organisation trying hover. People who hover at the edge of a – and retain it – what their passion is,
to do their bit for the economy, with a group, neither in nor out, look strange. A what their profession is and what you
guest speaker or two, and invitations group noticing someone like this may do have in common with them.
sent out on social media to turn up, learn the decent thing and invite the stranger
something and network. in, but they are just as likely to begin Passions range from golf to kids to
to close up the group, in a completely shopping to books, and they are a great
They are very useful, because you subconscious circling of the wagons. leveller and a great connector. We can
usually get to hear people with good talk for hours about these things and
ideas they are willing to share. But the But someone who lands right in to remember much later that we were
networking part can be hard at the start, the middle of the group with something supposed to be ‘networking’. But the
particularly if you attend the event on interesting to say will be warmly conversation will have been real, and
your own and get the instant impression welcomed. She acts like a long-lost cousin very connected, and could be the basis
that everyone else arrived with colleagues and immediately everyone begins to treat for a strong and long-term business
or friends. her like one. Open questions are best, relationship.
things that give people somewhere to
The point is, they are all there to do the go and a chance to avoid the dreaded, At the end of a pleasant, personal
exact same thing as you – to meet new ‘Did you have trouble parking the car?’ conversation, a business card will go down
business friends who might eventually conversation. like a lead balloon, so instead offer to do
become clients. People actually want to
meet you and the main barrier to that Here are some of the suggestions
made by participants on our networking
ORLAITH CARMODY KNOW YOUR
n NETWORKIRELAND.IE holds monthly
Orlaith Carmody gives seminars and events across its 10 branches including
training in effective communication seminars, workshops, training, mentoring
and research. www.networkireland.ie
www.orlaithcarmody.com n THE IRISH CENTRE FOR BUSINESS
EXCELLENCE (ICBE) is a non-
talk for hours about these profit network of companies from the
things and remember much manufacturing and service sectors, it runs
later that we were supposed networking events throughout the year.
to be ‘networking’. But the www.ibec.ie
conversation will have been real, n IRISH INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS
and very connected, and could be NETWORK is a not-for-profit organisation
the basis for a strong and long- with chapters in Dublin, New York,
term business relationship. London and Paris. www.iibn.com
n BNI is a worldwide networking
At the end of a pleasant, organisation that operates on referring
personal conversation, a business members’ businesses through a word-of-
card will go down like a lead mouth programme. www.bni.com
balloon, so instead offer to do n WOMEN’S EXECUTIVE NETWORK
something for your new associate has 2,000 members in Ireland and holds
arising out of the conversation. over 150 leadership, mentoring and
Send them the email address of networking events per year, with a branch in
that person who might be able to Dublin and Belfast. www.wxnetwork.com
help them, the title of that book n BANK OF IRELAND’S All About
you were referring to. Business website lists the networking
events around the country.
You now have an opportunity www.allaboutbusiness.ie
to follow up and, when the time n CHECK YOUR LOCAL
is right, suggest a meeting about ENTERPRISE BOARD for networking
your business proposition. events in your area.
Finally, to get out of the
conversation and move on around
the room, don’t ever use the
horrible ‘must mingle’, which tells
your companion loudly that he
is boring/of no use as a contact/
keeping you from talking to the
really interesting people.
Instead, shift position slightly,
bring someone new into the group
or join forces with the group next
door, do the introductions and
move on naturally in the position
shuffle that follows.