Learning how to network is the key to success in your professional life. Networking is a powerful tool that, when used effectively, can help you land your dream job, score a promotion or become close with top leaders in your field.
The key points for effective networking are building real relationships, maintaining them and giving back as much as you take. But what is the best strategy for networking? Knowing the right people can help you get to a place you might never have reached otherwise. Networking opens up opportunities to help you with a new business, find a job and develop relationships with key people who can help you out in ways you never thought of! Effective networking can be the difference between landing a job or not.
Here are some tips on the best ways to network:
A key component to effective networking is trust. In order to build a lasting relationship, you have to work on it and invest in it. You can’t ask a favor or expect someone to send you business if you haven’t put the time into nurturing the relationship. It is important for the other person to know what you do and who you are. Give them insight into you’re your specific areas of expertise and some career wins you’ve experienced. If they trust you in the long run, they will want to do business with you. Learning about an individual goes a long way towards building this bond. Try connecting with them on another level besides business. You can bond over a certain sport or a hobby. You never know what you might have in common until you get to know them.
If you aren’t visible, you won’t be able to network. If people don’t know who you are, you can’t very well start building those much needed relationships. Small business owners should especially make networking a priority. It is really easy to get caught up on the day-to-day workings of your business, but it is equally important to actively get out there and network. You simply must get out and connect with people to effectively grow your business.
The only way to become better at networking is to practice. The more you network, the better you’ll get at it. A great way to build your network base is to participate in a networking group. Ideally, you would be active in all 4 of these networking groups listed below:
- Casual networks: networking events or industry mixers
- Knowledge networks: professional associates
- Strong contact networks: groups that meet often with the sole purpose of building professional relationships
- Online networks: professional social media platforms such as LinkedIn
If you are shy, come up with 3 interesting talking points and bring it with you help start the conversation with specific contacts. You’ll want these points to be things that excite you, and will also interest them to make for engaging conversation subject matter.
Although you’ll ultimately want a large network, you also want a pretty diverse one. If you only know people who are just like you, your network becomes restricted. Opening up to people outside your industry or social group allows you to build “connectors”. These connectors can put you in touch with others who you never would have met otherwise. And those people can help you in ways you never thought possible.
Your network simply won’t be effective if you don’t maintain it. Use your free moments (however limited they are) to e-mail or call someone. Reaching out is the key to maintaining those contacts. Remember birthdays and spouses’ names and make a special point to reach out to them on a special day or event. You can also arrange a meeting, send an article, or put someone’s link up on your Facebook page. All of these things count as networking and you should be utilizing all potential avenues as often as you can.
Oftentimes, people forget about giving back. Yes, effective networking involves getting what you want, but it’s equally important to fulfill the needs of others too. It is vitally important to remember that networking is an ongoing give-and-take. Ideally, you want to set yourself up as the person that others seek out when they might need something. Suggesting someone for a job, or putting him or her in touch with an acquaintance they should add to their circle is a great way to network.
The key to effective networking is to keep in mind that you are continuously working to building lasting and deep relationships with your processional contacts. So get out there and network! You never know where it can lead.
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