Networking is essential whether you’re searching for employment or trying to expand your business. Here are a few tips to make the most of your networking efforts and build valuable connections.
Focus on giving first when building business connections. Find individuals whose needs align – for instance introducing career transitioners with marketing professionals.
1. Be Prepared
Before attending networking events, set clear goals. Doing so will make the experience less intimidating while helping build trust between you and potential contacts.
Be ready to discuss your own interests and pose pertinent questions during networking events. Sharing useful information may provide the spark needed for deeper relationships outside of networking events.
Avoid asking people directly for jobs or advice when networking, as this can seem pushy. Instead, focus on building long-term relationships that will benefit you down the line – connections you make today could turn out to be useful two, three or even ten years from now!
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Networking can open doors to career advancement and business expansion; yet networking may seem intimidating to younger professionals or managers looking to form new connections.
When meeting with potential business connections, it’s essential that your networking session be clear on its purpose. Are you hoping to land a job, create partnerships or locate investors? Clearly stating your objectives to them will prevent coming across as pushy or desperate.
Be brave enough to ask questions! While the Dunning-Kruger effect – where those with limited expertise overestimate their competence – may lead us to avoid touching sensitive subjects, asking questions can help build trust and strengthen relationships.
3. Be Honest
Professional networking is a crucial element for professionals, job seekers and entrepreneurs looking to grow their business or personal brand. Networking allows you to form relationships that may open doors to new business opportunities, potential partners and investment.
No matter why or for what purpose you network, always be honest with yourself regarding your intentions and goals. Don’t limit your search too narrowly; meetings with individuals whom initially might not seem helpful could end up providing invaluable resources.
Be sure to stay connected with your contacts by following them on social media, and asking colleagues and connections for introductions into their networks as this can broaden your horizons.
4. Don’t Jump Ship
One of the greatest mistakes people make when networking is abandoning relationships too quickly, leading to poor ones and much wasted time. While staying engaged during conversations is important, there comes a point when knowing your limits must come first and releasing yourself of that conversation altogether.
Researchers at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management recently conducted a study into why CEOs change companies, finding that network embeddedness plays a major role. If an executive has strong ties within their company it makes leaving harder.
If your job is unsatisfying, it is vital that you attempt to address its source first before looking elsewhere. While this may take more time and effort than simply moving on to find another position, the effort will certainly pay off in the end.
5. Be Patient
Rejection may arise, but remember that more relationships can be built through networking than through any other method. With practice comes mastery – so make the most of every networking opportunity!
Networking isn’t only about finding work; it’s also an educational process. Collaborating with business contacts is an excellent way to stay abreast of trends in your field and spark some ideas for personal career advancement or new projects at work.
Establish meaningful conversations with each person you encounter, and take notes after every meeting. This will allow you to recall their name when it’s time to follow-up, and reduces the chance that an important contact will slip through your fingers.