Andrea Bristol (Sexton) is the CEO and Founder of Admire PR Ltd
Can you share a little about what makes you an authority on building a great network?
My business has been built on having an excellent network. It takes time and effort - as with most things in life, you get out of it what you put in.
How important is networking for professional success, and why?
I believe it is vital. Humans need quality human connection to thrive, and networking is a way to build this for your business.
What's your usual ice-breaker question when meeting someone for the first time?
If I am at an event I will usually ask how they are finding the day or what have they learned so far. If at a 'normal' networking meeting I like to ask what people do out of work before talking about work things :)
How do you approach networking differently when you're meeting someone in person versus virtually?
No different to me - its the same.
What are some common mistakes people make when trying to build their professional network, and how can they avoid them?
Selling! If you can ask questions and listen you will build a better connection.
Plus take your time! Trust takes time and consistency to build.
Generally people don't look beyond the obvious. Not only are you speaking to a person with a business but you are also speaking to their connections.
Have you noticed any differences in the types of relationships you build through in-person versus virtual networking? If so, can you describe those differences?
I think it is quicker to build relationships in person but actually I have made some fantastic deep connections online. I actually think its best not to differentiate as the principles are the same.
What are some strategies you've found effective for building rapport and establishing trust with someone you've only just met?
Let's be honest you cant build trust when you have only just met someone - that takes time BUT you can build rapport and a keen desire to speak again. Be interested in them. Genuinely! Listen, ask questions, ask how you might be able to help them.
How can someone use social media and online networking to expand their professional network?
Consistently show up. No magic pill - do the work on a regular basis. Give without thought of 'what you are getting back'.
What advice would you give to someone who is new to networking and trying to make connections in their industry?
Try out a few groups and events until you find places you find comfortable. You will find your tribe. I mentor young business people and its usually the art of intelligent small talk that is the hardest thing for them to get to grips with. It takes practice.
Be helpful. Give without the need to 'get something back'. Be human and interested in others.
Set targets. Network with a goal in mind - for instance I usually give myself a target of a number of coffee dates to book from each meeting I do. Have purpose.
Keep turning up. Consistency is key to all marketing.