7 top tips to have the best networking experience

Posted 3 March 2017

NetworkingIt’s not always what you know – who you know can have a huge influence on your career development. But if you cringe at the very mention of the word ‘networking’, you’re not alone. 

But with Ozwater’17 just weeks away, there’s never been a better time to brush up on your networking skills. Year after year, members, presenters and keynotes always say that some of the most valuable parts of the conference are the networking opportunities with peers, industry leaders and those outside the water industry. 

Luckily, the Australian Water Association has a members-only webinar on how to develop savvy networking skills to get you ready in time. 

As a start, here’s a best-practice guide, as well as some tips from Association Board members for the uninitiated, the nervous Nellies and the outright reluctant. 

How can you help? 
Entering into conversations from the perspective of adding value – without expecting anything in return – can open doors. Have you seen an interesting piece of research that might further a presenter’s project? Could you connect your new contact with a pre-existing one in your network? No matter what level, you have something to give.

Reach out in a way that is suited to that person 
Pick your moment and your mode and style of communication carefully. Think about their timetable and their way of working, and be sure to tailor your messaging so that it’s specifically to that person, rather than a generic message.

Fulfil your promises promptly
“If you say you will make an introduction or send that research report, do so and do it sooner rather than later. You will fall off an individual’s radar very quickly if you don’t, and it will do your reputation no favours to be seen as unreliable,” said Mike Muntisov, Global Technical Leader, Water, GHD, VIC and Association Board member.

Diversity is the key to a successful network
If you only reach out to people in your industry, you won’t create a network that challenges you, inspires you or offers the chance for a fresh perspective. Nurture connections that don’t immediately seem ‘useful’ or who have opposing viewpoints to you.

Have something useful to say 
“Everyone is time poor, and people don't just want to hear a self-promoter; you need to add to the conversation. Make sure you know what is going on in the world and your industry. When connecting on social media, make constructive comments and share information you think others will find useful. Build your credibility with your peers so they will start to seek you out,” said Dr Annette Davison, Risk Edge Director and Principal,  and Association Board member. 

Don’t monopolise
At networking events, you might engage someone in a really interesting conversation, but be conscious of monopolising people’s time or blocking others from entering into a conversation (easily done after a glass of wine or two). If others do it to you, politely make your exit, saying you would love to continue on the conversation another time, but need to speak to XYZ before they leave.

Make sure you listen
“You have two ears and one mouth, so in theory you should be able to listen twice as much as you talk. But make sure you engage with those you are trying to network with. Talking over or at people is never going to make for good networking,” said Dr Annette Davison, Risk Edge Director and Principal, Risk Edge Pty Ltd, NSW, and Association Board member. 

To build your networking skills and advance your career, register for the Membership Matters Webinar: Savvy Networking Skills by clicking here