Liz Hamlet,Founder - Spark Succeed Coaching and Consulting, Co-Founder "The Antisocial Social Club"
Liz Hamlet is the Founder of Spark Succeed Coaching & Consulting. And co-founder of The Antisocial Social Club - a space for people who hate traditional networking. Liz spent some time talking with The Industry Leaders about how to build a great network.
Can you share a little about what makes you an authority on building a great network?
On a sweltering hot summer's day last summer, myself and my co-founder Yolanda starting chatting about networking. We'd both become disillusioned with the traditional networking events and 60-second-pitch style online zooms. We were struggling to find networking opportunities where we could find "our tribe".
LinkedIn was overrun with networking events - but nowhere was reaching out to people who hated traditional networking, who struggled to network due to be introverted or neurodivergent. There was nowhere catering for the masses who wanted to turn traditional networking on it's head.
And so "The Antisocial Social Club" was born. A space for quirky networkers.
Since launching at the end of last year, we've had over 3,000 people register for our month LinkedIn audio events, and we're excited to be launching our first in-person event in London in June.
How important is networking for professional success, and why?
It's a key skill - and one dreaded by many!
Even the most extrovert among us still quiver before walking into a room full of strangers.
Networking is particularly important for entrepreneurs and business owners. Much of our work is online now and this can be a lonely place, and difficult to meet new clients.
Networking - done right - is the way to go!
The trick is finding a networking event and style that works for you. Don't feel you need to shoehorn yourself into a "corporate networking" event when this just doesn't suit you or your client base.
What's your usual ice-breaker question when meeting someone for the first time?
I usually break the ice by cracking a joke or complimenting them on a stand out piece of clothing!
How do you approach networking differently when you're meeting someone in person versus virtually?
I'd say take the same approach.
If you wouldn't walk up to a total stranger and try to sell them something straight off the bat - don't do it online!
What are some common mistakes people make when trying to build their professional network, and how can they avoid them?
Sending spam salesy messages on first connection on Linkedin! - no one EVER responds well to the "sales spam and run" approach.
Using LinkedIn as a replacement to a dating app - Blocked!
Trying to take over someone else's posts with salesy messages.
Connection over sales please!
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'm going to be controversial and talk about the HUGE value of connecting first online.
I've been to several events recently and met people in real life after connecting online. It's amazing what a strong bond can be build via online connections.
And especially if you/they generate video content. I've lost track of the amount of times someone has told me "I feel I know you already!" because of my frequent video posts.
What are some strategies you've found effective for building rapport and establishing trust with someone you've only just met?
I usually find a commonality - whether that's an interest, someone in common, something they've posted about, a fabulous piece of clothing, a holiday destination. Find something that makes their eyes sparkly when they talk about it - that's when you're on to a winner!
How can someone use social media and online networking to expand their professional network?
LinkedIn is my favourite hangout. Reach out with personalised connection invites. Create content. Make use of audio rooms and other events where you can take part (The Antisocial Social Club does some great ones monthly!).
What advice would you give to someone who is new to networking and trying to make connections in their industry?
Experiment with what works for you. Audio, online, in person. Don't be afraid to move onto another event if the one you've tried isn't working.
Remember the little details - when you meet someone, take a mental note (or one on your notes app!) of something they mentioned. Then reach out to them after the event including this. It will make you (and them!) much more memorable.
Don't feel like you have to stay til the end. - Go with a strategy (this might be saying hi to one person). But don't force yourself to stay when you've had enough.
Try different ways to network and find one that suits you.