How to network like a natural

Fibre Optic CablesFor many CIOs, the prospect of a face-to-face networking event is met with as much enthusiasm as a trip to the dentist. But by changing your mindset and keeping in mind a few pointers, you can turn yourself into a fearless networker.

As CIOs have moved closer to the business in recent years, their ability to network well has become more and more important. But for many, networking can be more difficult than getting to grips with the latest technology.

As such, many CIOs see networking events as a waste of time rather than an opportunity to share ideas, expand knowledge and boost career prospects. For CIOs looking to get more out of networking, following the advice below can transform the experience:

Show your passion
Conversations at events often tend to follow a similar pattern, making it difficult to recall who said what. Make yourself memorable by discussing your passions, be they work-related or personal. Enthusiasm is both infectious and memorable.

Embrace rejection
Just as CIOs must be willing to accept that not all investments and strategic moves will pay off, so they must understand that networking brings the occasional bump. Some people won’t want to help, and others won’t care. Keep going. Those vital connections will come in time.

Project confidence
Carrying an air of confidence requires the recognition that you are just as important as the person you’re meeting. It starts with a firm handshake, steady eye contact and a warm smile, and continues with ensuring that your body language is friendly and positive. But be careful not to cross the fine line between confidence and arrogance, and don’t try to be someone you’re not.

As Leo Tolstoy wrote: “In the best, the friendliest and simplest relations flattery or praise is necessary, just as grease is necessary to keep wheels turning.” Remember to keep those wheels turning – but to flatter without fawning.

Make conversations a two-way street
Countless first impressions have been spoiled because one party dominates the conversation. Listening is just as crucial as contributing, so hear people out and don’t push your own agenda too hard.

Talk business as well as technology
You may be comfortable discussing apps, devices and processing power, especially if you’re from a technology background, but projecting knowledge of issues impacting the entire business and your industry as a whole will take you farther.

These suggestions are a starting point for CIOs looking to improve their face-to-face networking skills and unlock the rich potential in a roomful of possible allies.

But for those looking for just one tip to remember, perhaps author and poet Maya Angelou said it best: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

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