An effective leader has to always network. This activity demonstrates how leaders can practice this skill until they become proficient networkers.
- To help leaders understand the significance of continuous networking.
- To learn and practice networking skills.
- Attached Handout
- Index Cards: Three cards per participant
- Self-stick nametags in two colors (two blank nametags for each person, one of each color)
- Black or dark blue markers and pens
A large room with enough space for people to stand around and practice networking.
You can present all of the skills included in this activity at the beginning of your event, so participants can practice using them during breaks. However, if you conduct a multiday event on leadership, consider introducing these skills one at a time possibly at the beginning of each day, because they are so energizing.
Step by Step Instructions
- Begin by asking participants to stand and move around, shaking hands and greeting everyone in the group. Explain that we are often too hard on ourselves and this can be true especially when we are “networking.” When we enter into a group, for example, we don’t always feel confident that we will have anything interesting to say to other people, especially if they are strangers.
- Pass out three index cards to each participant. Ask participants to write down three concerns they have about networking, such as “Nobody will talk to me” or “I won’t know what to say” or “I can’t remember names.”
- Ask everyone to stand up, choose a partner, and hand him or her their three cards. One partner must modify the critical statements to something encouraging, such as “Lots of people will find me interesting, too,” or “I always know exactly what to say,” or “I can learn how to remember people’s last names.” Then reverse and repeat this process. Clarify the importance of changing one’s attitude—to start believing that networking will indeed bring positive changes, to stand tall, and to walk confidently into all group experiences.
- Tell the group that they must start identifying what they want from the connection. Distribute the handout, Networking Tips.
Explain by saying, “The best networkers are clear about what they need from others, as well as about what they can offer others. “For example, an individual once told us what his personal agenda was. He said he needed someone who could demonstrate to him how to transfer data from his computer to her new tablet. This same individual identified something he could share with others: ‘I just read the best book on networking! Who’s interested?’ We are going to identify our own agendas, and practice pursuing them with the others in this group.”
- Pass out two different-colored name tags per participant. On one name tag, each participant should write two or three infinitives that answer this sentence stem: “I need ……(to find, to connect with, to create, to learn, and so on).”
Examples: “I’m new in this city and need. . . .” or “I’m hoping to find someone who. . . .”
Once participants have completed their first name tags, they should move around and read everyone’s tag. When they find someone who can meet their needs, they should make note of that person’s name and follow up with them later on.
Explain, “Good networkers readily share what they know, who they know, and what they know that can help others.” “On the second name tag, write down two or three things you have to give other people, such as accomplishments, resources, skill, and enthusiasm. Then move around and read these new tags. Make notes when you discover someone who has something to offer that you need.
- As the facilitator explain that we need to give people a context in which to relate to us, instead of a job title or where we work. For example,
“Hi! I’m Kiara Beaumont. I help women attain new skills.” When people hear this tag line, they usually ask Kiara for an explanation. So she elaborates.
Here’s another example of what we mean: “Hi! I’m Liam Montgomery. I help companies stand out” When he is asked, he elaborates as well.
Ask participants to select and work with a new partner to create interesting tag lines for each other. When everyone is ready, ask people to move around and introduce themselves using their new tag lines.
- Close the session by asking volunteers to briefly sum up the point of the networking activity.
Take time shortly after conducting this activity to reflect on the progress done, how engaged the participants were, and what questions they raised. Take notes that include how much time you actually spent on the activity.