You need to know business networking.
Has your mouth turned dry and chalky at the very mention of the task? Are your palms sweaty at the mere thought of heading into a room full of strangers to introduce yourself?
Well, I have news for you: Pretty much everybody thinks networking is painfully awkward.
I get it needing to paste on a nametag and make small talk about how bad the free wine tastes is cringe-worthy at best. But, here’s the thing: Networking doesn’t have to be this awful. In fact, most of us hate it because we approach it with a totally wrong perspective. That’s why you need some networking tips.
The relationships you build through professional networking can be an essential piece of your career development. Most prominently, your network can be your work-related support system. You can go to these people when you want to discuss industry trends and news. Your network can also be valuable when considering career advancement, from recommendations for skills you should sharpen to securing an actual position.
We all have different preferences when it comes to the way we build and nurture relationships.
Here are seven networking tips to help you create a network that will work for you:
1. Know Your Goals
The first stage of building your network is figuring out the makeup of the network you want to develop. Consider the outcomes that will be most exciting for you. From there, focus your networking efforts on activities, groups, and people that are most likely to bring you closer to your goals.
It can help to shape your network around your long-term career goals. For example, if your career goal is to secure a promotion, you may want a network of organizations that arrange development opportunities for people in your industry and individuals in a position to recommend you for an open role within their company.
2. Develop Effective Communication Skills
Mastering the art of communication not only helps in building strong connections but also plays a pivotal role in leaving a lasting impression on others.
Let’s delve into some essential tips and tricks to make your interactions more impactful.
First and foremost, practice active listening. It’s not just about hearing what the other person is saying, but truly understanding their message and engaging in meaningful conversation with them. Show genuine interest by asking relevant questions, summarizing their points to ensure you’re on the same page, and offering thoughtful responses.
Additionally, pay attention to nonverbal cues such as body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice which often convey more than words alone. By mastering these skills, you’ll not only build stronger connections with others but also demonstrate your commitment to fostering authentic relationships within your network.
3. Be Authentic
When networking, it is important to be authentic and genuine. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. People can sense when someone is being insincere, and it can be a major turn-off.
4. Follow Up
After you meet someone new, follow up with a personalized email or LinkedIn message. This can help you stay top-of-mind and show that you are serious about building a relationship.
5. Create A LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is a business platform with 875 million members and nearly 60 million registered companies. This makes it a goldmine of networking connections and job opportunities.
With LinkedIn, you can find people who work at your dream company and talk to them about the hiring process. You can speak to experienced people in different industries and build friendships with them.
Plus, when you meet a professional at a networking event, you can get in touch with them on LinkedIn after the event to continue the conversation.
6. Identify Relevant Spaces
The possibilities for growing your network exist far beyond the people you already know and know of. Many people meet new contacts through professional groups, which may come together for social hours, panels, webinars, or other events aimed at career development.
As you identify the groups you may want to join, consider the types of spaces you feel most comfortable socializing in. You can likely find active online communities or in-person organizations dedicated to connecting and advancing your industry through an online search or by asking friends and colleagues about groups they engage with. This is also a great time to revisit the list of affiliations you noted when you compiled your list of thought leaders.
Once you identify the groups you want to join, search their websites and social media profiles for new member information or open events. Many organizations are volunteer-run, so you may be able to accelerate networking possibilities by volunteering for an event or committee.
7. Practice Your Pitch
Practicing how you’ll introduce yourself is one way to ease nerves as you prepare to enter new professional environments and meet new people. (Reinforcing to yourself all you have to offer and what you stand to gain is another.)
Your delivery may change depending on the person you’re reaching out to and your outreach method via email, social media, or in person but the information you share will be pretty consistent.