'Networking' maybe the most vomitous word in the English language. It conjures up images of smarmy suits smugly congratulating each other for another deal well done; or the adult version of an awkward Year 10 social, minus the old teacher lady popping up out of nowhere and putting a 30cm ruler in between you and any member of the opposite sex.
As a fresh-faced young'un entering the corporate world, I struggled to even say the word without putting on a cliché American accent. I thought: Networking is for phoneys and those weird kids who wore a suit to uni and asked questions moments before the end of class.
As I got older I saw my friends helping each other out with new businesses or getting cool jobs and thusly I have eaten my hat and done a complete U-turn. Not on the word, I still think it's naff, but on the idea generally. Networking is important to get anywhere or do anything.
So here's my Cheat's Guide to Getting What You Want Through Networking:
Even on the phone, even when you're stressed or PMS-ing or you're hangry and you want to wreak havoc on the world. Smile at everyone - your boss, the lady making your coffee, the mail guy. They are all people with their own people-problems and they won't hook you up or refrain from putting a loogee in your drink if they think you're a surly downer.
2. Get your house in order
Okay, you smiled your ass off and now someone likes you and wants to help you out. Congrats! Now, what's the first thing they are going to do when they are bored at work tomorrow? The same thing we all do every day - Google.
You are your own brand, whether you like it or not. So even though Twitter is dominated by trolls and narcissists, you still want your profile to be more Sheryl Sandberg than Katy Perry in case someone looks you up to see what you're about. The most important one if you're an office dweller is LinkedIn - it's crazy how much people use it, so connect with everyone you can think of, join groups, follow influencers and keep it up to date. Think about who you are talking to when you are using any social network and try not to fudge everything all together. Do you know what Bill Gates thought of his lunch? No, because he separates business and do-goodery from the rest of his life.
For myself - you may have noticed that I write this column and use Twitter under the nom de keyboard 'Frankie Futur' because I don't need potential employers (or boyfriends for that matter) seeing it pop up when they search the web. It's cleaner this way.
3. Look good
Humans are superficial and we can't help but give the beautiful people more time of day. Avoid looking cheap, unprofessional or immature, you want to look attractive without nasty people saying you were hired because of your flesh-baring tenancies.
4. Show your face
Turn up. Go to industry events, have a glass of wine (singular - save the always hilarious 'twirling my access-card from my belt when I dance 'cos it's sexy' gag for another time), show off your smiling skills, tell people your name and some of the stuff you like. It's a good idea to have a follow-up too, so send emails or LinkedIn invitations to the people you met, just to say 'hey, I see you' (in an Avatar way, not in a Fatal Attraction way).
5. Be a Good Dude
I have a strict Good Dude policy, which I am intent on spreading to the world. Basically it consists of continually asking yourself 'what would a Good Dude do in this situation?' People don't want to work with a egg, no matter how smart or talented they are. So don't be disingenuous or only talk to the important people in the room, don't slag anyone off. Ask lots of questions and aim to talk to at least one person you've never met before.
And, it (almost) goes without saying, help a sister/brother out if you can. Scratch some backs, it's what a Good Dude would do.
Do you have any helpful networking tips to add? Have these skills helped you get where you are?