The Gentle Art of Networking

The Gentle Art of Networking

Jul 21

The Gentle Art of Networking – with Brian McIvor
Networking Workshop at Jobcare, Dublin. (8/7/15)

Brian McIvor, author, trainer and career coach is a former associate of Richard Bolles, who wrote the career guidance book; What Colour is Your Parachute which has sold 11m copies worldwide.
Networking is a challenge for me and I’m always ready to learn about this most subtle aspect of career development, so it was a nice surprise when Brian started with the idea that maintaining a positive energy is helpful to making a good first impression with new people. Electrons are drawn to positive magnetism and similarly, Brian suggests, people relate to other people.

Personally, networking situations can be intense and quite stressful, so I was relieved when Brian made the point that being human and warm was the best approach to having an interesting reciprocal conversation.
But I usually run into difficulty during the middle of a new conversation so what really struck me was Brian’s advice to have a structure to fall back on as a useful tool that helps to keep the conversation flowing and the exchange going.
Practice makes perfect as the saying goes, and what I also learned was that networking techniques are best practised beforehand so that you can remember to use a structured approach when meeting new people. A way to get practice is by asking people about their hobbies first and then bring that questioning approach to professional networking events.

An important thing about the structure idea is that it’s based on questions which means listening is key, not just delivering your ‘pitch’. There’s nothing worse than a zombie networker who’s intent on telling you all about themselves, with little or no interest in hearing the other side of the story.
Being time-focused is probably the most difficult part of professional networking because time goes by so quickly in a group of people. Being aware of passing minutes brings focus to your conversations and asking for information you need, while extending the group of people that you know.
This is the key to time management. Meeting people casually can lead to interesting conversations, but professionals don’t always have that sort of time available to them and Brian illustrates this point by asking;
“How long is a minute?”
Meaning that even one minute can be effective in a networking situation, and you want to be mindful of the people you’re connecting with while being as effective as possible.

What I also learned from this workshop was that the whole area of career development is a fascinating learning curve and networking skills are not a natural talent, but something which needs to be developed and practised.
Taking power over the direction of your working life involves asking people for help and offering to help them in return. Perhaps this is the essence of networking, which could be considered as a form of empowerment.

Empowerment is another word for enabling, and empowering your career with a positive attitude to networking will benefit all aspects of your life. When you take a considered approach to networking it can make a great return on the time and effort invested.
Networking really means connecting with others and it has a universal appeal because we all want a happy and connected life!

Brian’s website is a great source of career information: