Whether you’re hoping to find a new job opportunity or are in the market for new clients, networking is an effective way to find what you’re looking for. To network successfully, you must have a foolproof strategy, the right tools, and have a follow-up plan. Consider to following nine tips to help you network like a pro:
1. Register For Networking Events
Professional events are a must when it comes to networking. These events give you access to a larger pool of connections as they attract a variety of people that all have the same desire as you: to expand their network. These types of events ranging from industry conferences to meetups with a specific theme.
Often held as a mixer of sorts with finger food and drinks, these types of events make it easier to connect with people outside of your typical social circle. By signing up online or through your job to attend one of these events, you’ll be able to meet people that you likely wouldn’t otherwise.
2. Join Professional Organizations
Professional organizations serve as another outlet for networking. These organizations are made up of members that are professionals in your field. Oftentimes, joining these groups can connect you with mentors, other professional contacts, and educational opportunities to advance your career. By joining these groups, you’ll have access to their growing network of members as well as the regular events that will allow you to connect with them.
3. Join Social Networks
Social networks and platforms aren’t just a way to reconnect with your grade school classmates. With the likes of LinkedIn, Google Plus, and more, you can improve your networking efforts. By seeking out key contacts that you’d like to develop a better relationship with, you’ll be able to start building these connections by commenting on their posts, sharing their articles, or offering them information of value when messaging them directly. In many cases, fostering this online connection will develop into an offline relationship.
4. Prepare Yourself To Network
In addition to mentally preparing yourself to speak with others, it’s important to gather all your necessary tools before showing up to a networking event. To make the most successful connections, it’s important to have business cards, promotional materials,
And a pen and paper for note-taking. With this networking toolkit in tow, you’ll be memorable, easy to contact, and will be able to remember the pertinent details of everyone you meet.
5. Use Your Resume To Ask For Advice
Networking isn’t only about connecting with new people. If you’re using networking to find new opportunities to expand your career, consider asking a trusted mentor or colleague to review your CV or resume. By asking this person for advice, you’ll be able to receive valuable feedback while giving the other person the opportunity to view your work history, objectives, and previous responsibilities. While they will likely offer their advice, they may also remember the name of a connection or company looking for someone with your particular skill set.
6. Ask For Tips To Grow Your Network
In addition to requesting resume-related advice, don’t miss out on the opportunity to ask others for their advice on how to improve your network. As each person has the power to connect you with the people they know, you can increase your own network by allowing you new contacts to introduce you to their tribe. Start by asking recent connections for their advice on how to improve your networking tactics. In many cases, they’ll recommend professional development organizations and put you in contact with contacts inside of the organization.
7. Share A Success Story
Everyone loves success stories. Just as it’s important for you to listen and ask questions as you get to know others you connect with, you should expect to receive questions regarding your area of expertise as well. Come prepared with relevant advice by having a story in mind of how you’ve helped others in challenging situations. This type of problem should be relevant to your profession and should conclude with how you arrived at the solution. By sharing a story with a positive and uplifting ending, you’ll be able to win over more people and even find that others will refer to you as an industry leader.
8. Always Follow Up
Successful networking doesn’t stop once you’ve shaken a few hands and made your rounds through the room. After making a connection with someone, it’s essential to follow up with them. Following up can take on the form of sending a thank you email, sharing a link to an article or making plans to meet up again on a different occasion.
When following up with someone you’ve connected with, avoid sharing their email with others or adding them to a mailing list if you haven’t asked first. As this is the beginning of a new connection, building trust is paramount.
9. Build Relationships
Many people go into networking with the idea that they should connect with as many people as possible. While it’s important to speak with a variety of people, true networking is all about making real connections and developing relationships that can last a lifetime. To do this successfully, you must take the time to truly get to know others as you allow them to make a real connection with you.
Use networking to start laying down a foundation of trust in your new relationships. Don’t approach new people with the idea that you’ll convert them into customers or use them for any leads they may have. Simply go into any networking situation with the expectation of making new friends and getting to know others.
Networking is a powerful way to expand your professional and social circle, develop real relationships, and find potential career opportunities. Keep this guide in mind to sharpen your networking skills for any upcoming opportunities.
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