Dot Bekker - Entrepreneur Strategist

Dot Bekker works with Entrepreneurs to build, develop and grow their business success with proven strategies.

PRESS: The Secrets of Good Networking in Luxembourg

Whilst on the Board of The Network we were asked by to answer some questions and tell them why The Network has been so successful for more than 20 years and how our members get the most out of their networking. Network Board Members Katerina Kapsani (PR & Media) and Dot Bekker (Website and Social Media) discussed how to network with professionalism and fun.

What is "networking"?

According to the online Business Dictionary, the definition of networking is: "Creating a group of acquaintances and associates and keeping it active through regular communication for mutual benefit."

However, for us at The Network, networking is something above and beyond that. It is something much less sophisticated, easier, more understandable and interesting: the willingness to meet other people, exchange ideas, share your experience and visions and if a professional deal comes out it is always a bonus. That is the reason why our motto is networking with professionalism and fun.

How to prepare before a potential networking event?

Contact cards are essential. If you are new to Luxembourg or looking for a new opportunity you possibly don't have a business card and that can be a mistake. We highly recommend that even a printed card with just your name, contact number and email will at least make a better impression than relying on memory or scraps of paper. If you're in business or a career then you probably have cards and always bring plenty with you so you don't miss an essential contact.

Dot: As a non-verbal communication specialist, I advise people to be aware of their body language when networking, people are 'aware' of more about you than just your words, so be sure to portray yourself in a positive way.

What tips would you give anyone during a networking event?

To start with, there are no rules. Having said that we believe that there are some general guidelines that one should follow. A genuine networking interaction should be based more on the question: "How can I help?" and not with "What can I get?".

True networking is about building trusted relationships and increasing your circle of influence. Of course you will also promote your business and yourself, but what we mean is that it should not be a self-goal. The relationships that you build in the future will lead to fruitful collaborations.

The person that you talk to is not necessarily the person with whom you may end up doing business with, it is important to gain credibility and entice positive word of mouth effects.

Try to connect with people who are different than yourself. Then you increase your opportunities of making a good contact.

When you are truly networking it isn't always about meeting more people it is about making quality contacts, these are the ones who will benefit you the most, so take as long as you feel necessary with any one person.

To move on it is generally acceptable that people do want to connect with other people, but be sure to do it in a way that is not rude, introducing someone to another person and excusing yourself or if there is a larger group you may just say excuse me. You will be remembered for your rudeness more than your politeness.

5 Top Networking Tips from The Network

Be prepared – know what you want to say or ask for when networking and have a card to make it easier for people to connect with you.

Diversity – often the best networking comes from meeting people who are not like you, don't be afraid to move outside your comfort zone.

Quality not Quantity – take the time to build relationships rather than just collecting business cards.

Connect – if you want to continue to build a relationship with people be sure to connect with them while you are fresh in their minds, social media, email are all easy ways to do this.

It's not just about you – If you are networking to get results understand that others are also looking for the same thing so be sure to listen to others as much as you want them to listen to you.

What should you not do when networking?

For the sake of your own integrity: Do not lie for your profile and your skills. Do not take for granted that people are there just to help. Be prepared to offer something in return. Be interested in the other person as much as you are interested in promoting yourself.

How does one follow-up from a networking event?

These days the primary thing to do is connect via social media, for example on Linkedin. However, if you want to stand out a bit more, personalise the invitation, for example "Happy to have met you at this event, with this invitation I convey you my personal details and would like to add you to my professional network."

If people connect with you, remember to thank them for connecting with you. Connecting in some way with the people you considered you want to continue a relationship with is important. Don't leave it until you want something from them and connect when you are fresh in their mind.

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Tuesday, 19 March 2019