Written by Donald Lush
Dr Triona Bolger, whose PhD was in Craniofacial Developmental Biology, is now a Managing Consultant in the Life Science Practice at Navigant Consulting with a strong interest in EU/Emerging Market commercial strategy for both speciality and big pharma.
Here are Triona’s top thoughts about networking and how to be a successful networker:
- Words that come to mind when thinking about networking:
- Elevator pitch
- Selling yourself
- Awkward forced conversation
- Working a room
- Speed dating.
- All of these things can seem like barriers to a useful conversation.
- Networking is nothing more than making connections with people – be interested, be present and be honest. Talk openly about the things that you are passionate about, ask engaging questions and truly listen to the answers. People seek connections and respond well to honest and open conversations.
- Networking shouldn’t mean that you are false or behave in a manner that isn’t yourself – this comes across as fake and people will close off .
- The purpose of networking varies so try and be open to opportunities – you may be looking for a new flat mate, funding, a job, inspiration, a collaborator and many other things.
- You can network anywhere – the residents lounge of your building, at parties, sports, on-line, on a flight.
- Generally, I don’t network with purpose, I just try to pay attention to who people are and chat, but this is my approach. Others need to be more studied and others are more gregarious.
- Be true to yourself – if you aren’t outgoing and able to introduce yourself, then don’t go to events where you have to put yourself out there. Work out a networking style that works for you.
- Identify your ‘party personality’ – are you the centre of the party? Are you holding up the wall, are you chatting in the kitchen in a smaller group, are you making yourself useful clearing up after other? Know yourself and find ways to talk to people that work for you
- What do you want to be known for? What do you need / want to know about others? Try to work out your answers to the following:
- Do you have to be purposeful vs. passive?
- What is your story?
- Who is the other person?
- Keep in touch with the connections you make through messages, emails or personal contact.