Growing your Network

Regardless of where you are in the world, there are two major aspects of networking that apply all the time. First, you must be able to communicate casually and effectively. If you aren’t able to talk to someone like they are a normal person, you create a really awkward or tense environment. More likely than not, this will lead the person or group you are attempting to connect with to leave the conversation altogether, and no relationships can be formed. Secondly, and equally important, you must be aware of the importance of being a good listener. If you don’t actively pay attention to what the person you’re talking to is saying, you will appear completely uninterested in the conversation. No one wants to continue speaking to someone when they feel like what they’re saying doesn’t matter. It is also important to avoid rambling on and on about yourself or your work, not giving the other person any time to talk. No matter how interesting you think you may be, it is highly unlikely that the other person cares about what you have to say that much. Additionally, in most western countries, you begin the conversation with a firm handshake as a greeting. Other formalities of networking include dressing appropriately/professionally to look appealing to others. Furthermore, you should focus your first interaction on building a relationship rather than discussing business. From there, you can schedule times to get together and do something like grabbing a coffee. During this second meeting, you can discuss business, how you may benefit one another, and how to utilize your new relationships to help each other. Lastly, you must be able to develop your own personal brand because, as the speaker said, what truly matters is what people know you for.

When looking at the importance of networking in Ireland, you can see that they have very similar practices to us in the United States. Although I don’t have much experience with networking in a professional setting, I can identify some things that seem to be unique to Irish networking from what the speaker said today. Irish networking seems a little more casual than what we’re used to, as the speaker kind of made fun of me for wearing a full shirt and tie. Also, the conversations that you have to create relationships upon the first meeting are unique to Ireland because they’re heavily impacted by Irish culture and society. The example the speaker gave today was asking someone their favorite soccer team. You generally wouldn’t do this in the United States because soccer is significantly less popular there. Other than these small differences, I think largely the same skills apply to networking in Ireland as in the rest of the world.

One technique I learned today that I will use in the future is keeping the circle open. By not closing the circle off, you create a welcoming environment where people are willing to join, and you can make even more connections. A second technique I will try to use is being the person introducing members of a group to a newcomer. This gives you a position of power, in a sense, and is more likely to make you stand out. Also, it may make others in the group think you are more important than you may truly be.

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