How to network effectively:
You know the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? well, that holds some truth. Networking is an important aspect of job performance in many industries. Being an effective networker can gain you access to more clients and opportunities. As such, it is an excellent way to further your career. But how do you become good at networking? Here are some tips that will even help the shyest people.
How to network 101:
Do your research:
This may sound strange, but it helps to research people you would like to connect with. This allows you to learn more about them, their interests, and their professional journey. It can also help you think of ways to approach this person. Plan who you would like to speak to, and why. Create an action plan on the best ways to connect with these people. Importantly, the goal should not solely be about getting something from someone else, it should be about building a solid connection that will foster lines of communication and support for the future.
Build the foundation:
Attend events that foster lines of communication, such as cocktail parties or talks. Once there, strike up a conversation with other attendees. Start off by speaking about something you know the other person can relate to. Use what is at your disposal. Notice something funny? Make a comment. Attend an interesting talk? Ask someone else’s opinion on it. It’s always best to use situational introductions, rather than just going up to someone and introducing yourself. It comes across more organic, setting up a less strict, professional conversation. Once you’ve built a solid foundation, it’s easier to steer the conversation towards your career.
Don’t forget to seal the deal afterwards! You need to set up lines of communication to ensure that communication will continue after the initial conversation. A good way to do this is to carry business cards to give out before you leave! Another thing you should do is follow up afterwards. Send them a request on LinkedIn, or an email. This will cement the initial connection even further.
Networking is just as much about listening and responding as it is talking. When you take the time to listen to someone, it shows that you value their time. Furthermore, by listening, you can better take in what people are saying. Your responses are thus more attentive and valid, which can only be a good thing. Remember, someone is much more likely to respond positively to you if you show that you take what they say into care and consideration.
You don’t wake up an amazing networker. Unless networking comes naturally to you, its something that requires lots of practice. Take any opportunity you can to practice your networking skill. Attend talks, cocktail events, after-work drinks, anything where you know your peers or your desired industry members will also be in attendance. But don’t stop there! Mix up your networking events. Any opportunity involving other people is an opportunity to network. You never know who you could meet, and where. You can meet the most unlikely people in the most unlikely of places.
Give as much as you take:
Networking should not end with you getting what you want. Make sure to pay it forward. Whenever you know of someone in need, or you know of a great opportunity, do something about it. By helping others, you also help yourself.
Do you have any other tips for networking? Let us know in the comments below!