For many, it may feel uncomfortable to put themselves out there with the goal of trying to make career-related connections, but networking is an undeniably important skill to develop. Through networking, people can create a world of opportunities for themselves and others. They can be part of a peer group of forward-thinking individuals who actively use connections to supercharge their projects with tailored talent and passionate personalities. Having a network means knowing what other exciting enterprises might be out there for you to be possibly a part of. The opportunities are worth the initial awkwardness that comes with learning how to network. Below are some tips for those wondering how to effectively network.
Get Your Contact Information and Online Presence in Order
Make sure that you’re accessible! Have your business cards ready with your phone number and email address. If you don’t already have a professional-looking email address, i.e. just your name or the name of your company, get one from a reputable email address provider like Gmail. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date as well. Increase the privacy settings on your personal social media, like Facebook or Twitter, which could give off the wrong impression to those Googling your name. Your business should also have a web presence with accessible contact information as well.
Go to Networking Events with the Intention of Talking to Someone New
It can be tempting to go with a friend to networking events, but it usually means that you’ll end up talking to no one new. Go alone and strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know. Ask about them, and what they do both in and outside of work. You don’t need to do much more than have a friendly conversation and get to know who the person is and what they do. Exchange contact information (such as business cards, phone numbers, or LinkedIn profiles) and follow up with a message the next day to remind them of who you are and what you talked about.
Make it Mutual
When you have made a connection with someone, don’t treat them like a resource or one-sided opportunity. Let them know that you are also amenable to helping them find the right people or projects too. A mutually beneficial relationship will last longer and strengthen both parties than an unbalanced one. Even if one party isn’t able to do anything for the other at the moment, they can at least offer to help in the future. Make it clear that you value the person for more than their position or potential. Treat them like a new friend, because that’s what they should be.
Rose Ho | Staff Writer