Seven Professional Networking Tips
Networking is a way of creating and sustaining relationships with others including business contacts, friends and acquaintances for eventual business gain. There are many ways to network and these can include attending meetings, conferences and other specific events. These meetings can provide individuals with a way to talk to key influencers and important players in the industry.
- Attending events
As stated above, attending events one of the most obvious ways to network. Events can include industry meetings and conferences but informal meetings with friends and family can also count. Essentially, exchanging information about yourself and what you aim to do is networking. It does not have to be going to big events with strangers, some people are more comfortable in smaller crowds or one-to-one.
- Using social media to connect
Social media sites have enabled individuals to take charge of their careers and promote themselves. It is becoming even more important to have a presence online to find jobs and to allow potential employers to find out more about individuals. LinkedIn is the primary website for professional networking in the world. There are also other networking sites exist such as Meetup, a site to join people together based on hobbies, professions or interests. These sites allow individuals to share information about themselves and connect. Online seminars – or webinars – can provide other ways to learn AND network without leaving your home!
- Define your personal brand
When you are planning to network, it is important to understand yourself first. Your strengths and weaknesses, career aspirations and interests. The simple way to do this is to write this information down; lists of your interests and notes of your strengths and weaknesses.
When you have identified these things, you can decide how you are going to communicate this information to others in your network. When you begin introducing yourself to others, be yourself. Sincerity is something that is easy to spot so make sure you are being honest.
- Take your time
Networking is not a sprint, it is more of a marathon. You may not meet someone that can help you straight away. The key is to take joy in meeting different types of people and developing links and relationships with others.
- Lay foundations during the first contact
The first time you meet someone, be open and approachable. If the conversation with the other person is going well, exchange contact information and start communicating via email, calling or any other means that you mutually decide.
- Connect on social media
Connect on LinkedIn and any other social media outlet that you both agree on. After the initial meeting contact the individual and arrange another time to meet or just discuss some topics that you spoke about when you met or the first time you talked. Additionally, if you can offer something in return, projects or introductions, this is a good way of connecting and establishing a firm relationship.
- Appreciate people’s limits
As highlighted earlier, an individual that you meet may not be able to help you straight away. If you are asking for a job or to be connected to someone, the person you speak to may not have the power, influence or means straight away to help you. It is worth keeping in touch every now and again to establish and maintain relationships.
In conclusion, networking is a great thing to do to expand your circle and increase knowledge. Going to events, meetings and conferences, using social media sites such as meet up and LinkedIn and staying in touch with connections can help.