The general consensus of career professionals is that successful networking has the potential to make one’s career. In today’s competitive career world, it is all about who you know and how they can help you. Networking can appear in many forms: attending an event, forging connections with co-workers, supervisors, or higher-ups, or even randomly running in to and making a connection with a noteworthy professional. A quick search on Google with show you that everyone under the sun has an opinion on the best ways to network, so we did the hard work for you and compiled the top tips for successful networking today.
Successful professionals will tell you to begin networking before you even really need to be networking. Desperation is not attractive to a potential employer or new connection. By beginning to network early on, you will establish yourself as a reputable, genuine person, rather than a desperate job seeker willing to throw their resume and a smile in anyone’s direction. This also allows ample time for relationships to be forged before you need to ask anyone for a favor.
Work Your Way Up
Start your networking small, with friends and family to develop your skills. Not only is there a possibility that a family or friend will prove to be a beneficial networking connection, but they can also help you fine-tune your skills. Networking can seem intimidating at first but practice makes perfect, and it is better to mess up with someone who already knows you than with an important career connection.
Build Relationships, Not Stepping Stones
Networking should be about building relationships, not just using people for your advantage. Networks also tend to be more successful if they are developed over many years. Instead of trying to break in to a group of older executives, build relationships early on with people who seem to be going places. It is a give and take, so be equally generous in networking situations. Instead of immediately asking someone for something, offer them assistance or a connection. This will go a long way in building a solid reputation in your career or field of interest. Remember to operate with generosity in mind; it is not wise to expect something in return every time you do someone a favor. Others around you will catch on to this and you will forge yourself a not-so-nice reputation. Genuine generosity is at the heart of truly successful networkers.
Before attempting to forge a connection with a new contact, do preliminary research on the company, industry, or career of the person. This will allow you to prepare specific, relevant questions that will benefit you and provide a conversation starting point with the new contact.
Get in touch with your new contacts shortly after meeting them, while you’re still fresh in their mind. If you offered your assistance in any way to them, follow through with this to build credibility. Whether it’s an email or phone call, a little effort goes a long way in establishing important new relationships.
In the end, these are only a few of many great tips to improve your networking skills. It takes time and practice, trial and error to perfect your networking talent. Best of luck!
Written By: O. Greendyk