What is Networking?
Networking is all about making connections and building long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with fellow professionals. It’s unlikely that you will meet many experienced, successful business people who don’t swear by it as a key component in the growth of their career.
There are a range of personal benefits and opportunities that you can gain from networking. Firstly, it allows you to establish reliable business contacts with whom you can have a mutually resourceful relationship with. Secondly, it allows you to gain access to greater amounts of information such as: upcoming jobs, knowledge of different resources available to you and an understanding of the dynamics within your industry.
How to Network?
Not everyone is confident in their networking abilities, so we have compiled ten top tips on how you can network successfully…
1. Prepare – It’s important to make sure that you know of the location, time and date of all the events you will be attending. Dress smart and arrive in good time. Don’t forget to bring a good handful of your professional business cards – as they always come in handy.
2. Make the First Move – Try to seem self-assured even if you really aren’t. Go up and introduce yourself, as there’s a chance that the person or people that you decide to speak to are not that confident with networking either.
3. Start with Small Talk – There’s no need to jump straight in with impressive business talk. Start little and work up. Try commenting on the venue, parking, weather – anything to get the conversation flowing.
4. Be Interested – It’s important to find out about the person you are talking to. Ask them genuine questions. This way you can build up a picture of them and they’re then more likely to listen attentively to you when it’s your turn to talk.
5. Don’t Just Take – Networking is a two-way system. To reap your own benefits you have to be willing to help others. Give them advice, referrals and generally be friendly and professional; that way they are more likely to reciprocate the favour.
6. Keep an Open Mind – Don’t readily dismiss a contact if they don’t seem to be beneficial for your current needs as your needs may change and you do not want to have lost a potentially significant or valuable contact.
7. Keep Your Word – If you have promised to provide one of your networking contacts with contact information that may be valuable to them, such as a phone number, make sure you follow through – Because you don’t want to be remembered as being unreliable.
8. Build Relationships – Be consistent in your attendance at events. This way you can become a familiar face and build trust or professional relationships with fellow attendees.
9. Have Fun and Relax – Networking events are social occasions, not chores, so make sure that you treat them as such.
10. Bring Your Colleagues – If you enjoyed an event, don’t be afraid to bring along work colleagues and friends for the next one. Introduce them into your networks too. As the bigger your network, the better chance you have of being recognised or remembered.