This week we’ve been chatting to Louise Doherty, the founder of PlanSnap, to hear her top tips on how to network like a boss and tackle the emergency escape plan..!
I’m Louise and I’m the founder of PlanSnap, an app to get friends together really quickly for any kind of social plan. We get everyone to agree on the details of the plan – who, what, where and when – so it actually happens! If you’re the sort of person who’s always seeing cool things to do online and planning adventures with friends, you’ll love PlanSnap. It’s totally free, and available on iOS, Android and on the web.
Every friendship group has a super planner; the type A personality always booking the tickets and tables, making sure meetups actually happen.
I was that person, but it’s utterly thankless hard work. I decided to build a better way after getting fed up with Whatsapp groups that just go round in circles or Doodle polls that people never fill out.
It’s so important to have strong, real-world friendships.
Loneliness is a huge problem for people of all ages, and I believe that big social media companies are causing this by making us feel like we have good friendships when people like or comment on our latest post – but that’s not the same thing as making memories with your real friends in real life. The World Health organisation recently found that loneliness is as bad for you as smoking! For all these reasons, I’m super passionate about helping people get together in real life, and I love nothing more than hearing from our users how we’ve helped them arrange dinners, family get togethers, hen and stag dos, sports matches and more.
Why is networking essential when you’re an influencer, or freelancer?
Networking is such a dirty word these days, but it’s one of the most important things you can do as a self employed person or influencer. The most successful people in any industry had help from their network to get there, and finding people who can help when you need support takes time, so it’s better to build a good network before you need them.
What are the key benefits of networking, and how can it enrich a business?
You never know when you’ll need help or what kind, but if you have a good support network around you they’ll be there when you need them. When you’re in charge of your own destiny and career as an entrepreneur and/or influencer every day you’re learning something new.
But a good network can shortcut your time to being successful.
I believe humans are hardwired to help, if they can, so knowing who to ask for help and actually, clearly asking for it (two different things!) can really move the needle to your goals or help you out of a tight spot so you can sleep at night.
What’s the difference between networking online and in person?
You can develop amazing relationships online with people you wouldn’t usually interact with, but the ultimate way to build a powerful network is definitely in person. The most senior and important people rarely spend lots of time online and aren’t likely to walk into your bedroom when you’re working from home, so it’s important to dedicate time to getting out and building these real world relationships. In-person relationships are deep, rich, based on shared experience and draw on thousands of non-verbal cues. You can maintain relationships started in person using social media really effectively.
How can you create a simple yet effective pitch when introducing yourself to new people?
Besides that – practice your one-line opener! Make it intriguing, cryptic, funny, flippant, powerful… Anything that draws people in.
Being upbeat, confident in your intro is important as it sets the tone for the conversation.
The goal of networking is not to meet as many people as possible, but to identify where there’s mutual interest in developing a relationship as quickly as possible, then share contact details, move on and follow up the next day. Perhaps you’re a great content creator, and a lawyer you meet is looking to start a side hustle Insta account for reviewing free fitness events. At first you might not see much need for a lawyer, but once you identify what you need and what you can both offer, the new connection is exciting for you both -even if you don’t help each other immediately.
What is rule no.1 in the networking etiquette?
It’s too hard to choose one! I’d say pay it forward, and don’t outstay your welcome. Paying forward means making intros and connections for that person even if they haven’t helped you yet. So much good comes from a ‘give first’ attitude. On don’t outstay your welcome, I’d recommend that you make the connection, identify the shared interest and unless you’re getting on like a house on fire then move on.
Leave them wanting more!
Another tip that’s not exactly etiquette but is so so so important in networking is the fast followup. If you don’t follow up with a personalised message to your new contact in 24 hours, the networking effort will be lost. I have to really force myself to do this but it really works (or doesn’t if you don’t!)
How can introverted people ease themselves into the idea of networking?
Something I find really helpful is having a go-to intro and emergency exit lined up…
My intro is: “Hello, I’m Louise from PlanSnap – I don’t think we’ve met yet!”
I like this because you can’t argue with it. Then I usually follow up with: “What brings you here tonight?”
The reason being is that it covers a multitude of reasons as to why they might be attending and helps you understand their motivations for networking.
And my escape plan is not drink/bathroom – that gets old pretty quickly. Instead, I tell the person what I came to the event to do, and ask them if they’ve met anyone that evening who could help me, and ask them to point them out. People generally like to help even when they can’t help personally, so it works because it leaves them with a good feeling about you, and you get to leave and go to something that’s hopefully more useful to you too.
Finally, know that EVERYONE thinks networking is weird, some people just do more of it and get used to it eventually.
You can download the app here.