…Building confidence for building connections
Event report, North West Group
On Monday 15th April the North West ABP group heard from two great speakers who had a very different approach to networking.
Sean Heneghan and Angie Ingman, both Occupational Psychologists and successful independent practionners, shared their insights and secrets to networking and how to promote yourself and your business.
Sean Henegan: ‘networking’ is a fact of life…. or is it?
Not believing that networking aids are effective for him, Sean explained how he kept up with business contacts, without a website, without LinkedIn, and, amazingly, no business cards.
With a background in retailing at B&Q in the 1980/90s Sean believed and still believes that there is an art to building relationships in the traditional way, and that many people, even many young people, still work this way. Studying Psychology as a mature student at UMIST confirmed his views on this approach.
The key to relationship building is not, electronic aids or even business cards although email is a great facilitator. It is being alive to networking opportunities and managing the relationships which develop from them. The key points to consider are:
- Identify a person, an opportunity, an organisation
- Get into conversation with them, but listen and let them talk. Then pick up on key points and request information and 99% of the time not only will you have important information but you will have probably also gained a useful business acquaintance
- Don’t talk yourself unless you have key points to make and questions to ask
- Look at the developing relationship as long term. Don’t think at this stage about what you are likely to earn from the relationship
- Do a regular diary catch up and review all emails every month
Successful networking relies on:
- The ability to be selective and pick up on and manage what is important
- Quickly identifying what can be delivered and then saying “no” to other suggestions
- Knowing where to file information and when to contact people later
- Realising that the other person sees you as top of his/her agenda when there is a need
- When a business card is handed over, take action to follow it up. Treat a business card with the importance with which it is recognised in the Far East
- Doing what you say you will do and not do……… i.e. if you say you’ll ring them, then do!
This is a start, but relationships have to be nurtured and you have to be persistent. Use every opportunity to follow up the relationship and always bear in mind the HELP acronym:
Psychologists need to handle themselves with care during networking activities. Experience suggests that:
- You should never say upfront that you are an organisational psychologist
- Psychologists are rarely asked for evidence of Chartership or HCPC membership
- Keep your academic background low key but use it at critical moments to build credibility
- Target theory to practice. Theory can be of high quality but it becomes degraded in practice because of pressures to relate practice to specific theory, and finally…
- Don’t say what you are and, especially when you are trying to get instructions from large organisations, avoid becoming “pigeonholed” as an expert in a restricted area of the HR lifecycle
About the speaker
Sean is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist and an accredited coach with significant experience working with local government, international retailers and FMCG specialists, coaching, training and selecting individuals for job roles in these areas.