Networking guru Carole Stone explains how to turn a brief encounter with a stranger into an exciting new contact—even if that stranger is a celebrity!

Why should I network?

Most of us exchange a few words and move on, but Carole Stone, author of The Ultimate Guide to Successful Networking and chair of YouGov Cambridge advisory board, always follows up an initial contact. “If you do it in a friendly way, it won’t seem pushy,” she says. “Say, ‘I’ve so enjoyed talking to you, I’d like to keep in touch.’ Ask for their number.”

Inevitably there’ll be knock-backs, but that’s no reason not to talk to strangers, including celebs. “It’s vital to be brief, but tell them how much you enjoyed their book/programme/campaign,” says Stone. “If it goes well, who knows what it might lead to?”

Avoid monopolising people or abandoning them, and make a point of saying thank you before leaving. If you arrange to see a guest afterwards, invite the host too. And if your social life grinds to a halt, tell neighbours, friends and anyone you’d like to know better that you’ll be having a coffee morning for an hour at the same time every week for a month.

 

More great networking tips

1. Find networking events based on your interests or career. Finding like minded people is easier than you think and may even help you progress in your career. Alternatively, networking events are a great place to mingle and find friends. Remember everyone is there for the same reason so don't be afraid to introduce yourself.

2. Research events. It may be worthwhile doing a bit of homework before you head to a party or event. Find out who's going to be there, what makes them interesting and why you wish to network. 

3. Ask questions and don't monopolise the conversation. Generally people feel that they have had a great conversation when the focus is on them. Ask questions to others, find out what makes them tick and wait for questions to be returned to you. 

4. Make a lasting first impression. First impressions make a great impact, smile, give a firm handshake and put your best side forwards. Professor Sam Gosling gives more advice on first impressions here

5. Follow up. Get that phone number or email address as Caroline Stone suggests, but make sure you use it. Follow up on your introduction by sending an email saying how great it was to meet them and how interesting you found their area of expertise. Be sure to mention the possibility of a future meeting. If you forget to pick up a phone number there are plenty of other ways to follow up on your meeting, social media such as Twitter and LinkedIn are particularly great for making connections.

If you're stuck for conversation, Professor Bernardo Carducci provides some simple advice on small talk to get the ball rolling.

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