The Annual Global IIBN Conference has become, in just 4 years, the premier date in the Irish International Business Networking calendar. Having previously taken place in Dublin and London, 2014 marks the first occasion of it taking place, in New York. It is a most fitting setting for the event, in a city with such a strong link with all things Irish. Success in our business is about our relationships. It is therefore key to our future success that we cultivate our networks. Get your tickets here. 

Five years ago, my career path took a turn which lead me into the global Irish networking space. Through this process of growing an Irish social network, I learnt the skills and value of online networking mainly via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. In the process of launching the network, on-the-ground in London and New York, I began to fully appreciate the real value that is achieved when online and face-to-face networkings are combined. In the process of promoting this network globally, I had the good fortune to connect with many interesting people in Irish Embassies/Consulates, cultural groups and business networks.

One business network that really impressed me, with its vision, welcome and the calibre of the membership was the IIBN. I am honoured to be a part of the Ireland board of the premier Irish International Business Network as we grow globally in both size and stature. Below are my tips on getting the best out of the conference and some musings on networking.

'How to Get the Best out of the IIBN Opportunity Conference'

Research to find out who will be attending and check out their profiles on Linkedin. Also use your social networks of choice, to promote the event and your intention of attending. This will both encourage new attendees and help people to indentify your profile and seek you out.

Don’t just stay with those you know – politely disengage and meet new people. It’s easy to mix with friends, but while new people will be more of a challenge, they will be more interesting.

Try to listen more than talk – We have 1 mouth but 2 ears – use accordingly. Don’t be a predatory networker – hoovering up business cards and dealing yours out like a Vegas croupier!

Be Yourself

Be genuine, real and courteous, offer insights that you believe may help others. Often this gets reciprocated, but don’t expect anything in return, networking is a marathon, not a sprint.

Speak in a ‘language’ others understand. Don’t bore people with becoming overly expansive about what your work entails. Most people simply need to get an idea of what your skills are. Too much industry talk can sound like a foreign language to most people outside your own vertical.

Follow-Up. This is commonly a missed opportunity, we invest much time and energy in networking, but often fail to do that most important part, the follow up. Don’t banish those business cards to your desk drawer, but use the contact details to connect on Linkedin, email or phone to arrange to meet up over a coffee.

Don’t just network, connect. In his excellent book, ‘The Tipping Point’, Malcolm Gladwell identified a particular type of networker. Connectors possess an innate skill of identifying people who may be able to help each other. Networking can just be a means to an end. But connecting is about using a genuine love of meeting people and making friends to engage and assist one another.

Have Clear Objectives or who you want to meet and how they might help you. Ask how you can help others. It is surprising how often people don’t have a clear answer to this. Be clear what your own answer to this question will be.

A great way to connect before, during and after the event is by using the Bizzabo Networking App. This can act as your ‘Networking Radar’ for the OpportUnity Conference. This service is provided free to attendees and makes for a most efficient way to get the most from the event.

‘Position yourself as the person of influence, the one who knows the movers and shakers. People will response to that, and you’ll soon become what you project‘ – Ben Burg

Musings on what Networking IS… and is NOT

Networking is NOT about the giving or receiving of business cards. We all have lots of business cards that we never did anything with.

Networking IS about thinking how you can help people when you meet them. Think how you benefit when others do likewise.

Networking is NOT about closing-the-deal. But is about patience and relationship building.

Networking IS often about circling back and cultivating existing relationships. It is not always about cold-calling new people.

Networking is NOT about hiding-your-light-under-a-bushel. To succeed in this world (and in business) we need to be known to people.

Networking IS about ‘Paying It Forward’.

Do all human impulses really need to be about, what’s- in-it-for-me?

See also: My Top 10 Tips for Effective Networking

Pat Carroll, CEO of Touch Communications is an IIBN Board Member. He will be attending the annual IIBN OpportUnity conference that is taking place in New York on November 6th and 7th. Get your tickets here.