Updated: Sep 28, 2020
Networking like a pro seems like a daunting task, but in all actuality, it isn’t. Keep the following nugget of wisdom in mind:
“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” - Bill Nye
This breaks down the importance of networking to its basic purpose- new knowledge or information. Networking is a very important part of your job, if you are part of someone else’s company and becomes all the more important if you run your own business. Knowing the right people can get you out of any rough situation you’re dealing with, or create an extremely favorable situation for you. Never underestimate the power of human connections.
A few tips to network like a pro:
Build a sincere relationship. Networking is a skill beyond numbers or talking to a multitude of people. One quality connection or conversation is better than 20 superficial ones. Whether you’re at a work event or social outing, focus on creating genuine relationships based on listening, reciprocity and shared interests and goals.
Try initiating connections. This can be difficult, especially for people who are shy or introverted. Extending an invitation first does make a difference, so the next time you meet someone you would like as a part of your network, simply extend an invitation for them to join you for lunch, or a drink. Initiating the connection in this way will lay the foundation for conversations where you’re bound to find further common interests.
If you are shy, or find it difficult to initiate conversations, practice. I cannot stress how important it is to practice building connections and initiating conversations. Read books and articles about the process. A few good recommendations are:
How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie (a classic)
Give and Take by Adam Grant
Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. (extremely straightforward and a relatable read!)
4. Always offer before you ask and give with generosity. Ask about another person's current projects and take a genuine interest in what they’re working on. "Successful networking is never about simply getting what you want. It's about getting what you want and making sure that people who are important to you get what they want, too." says networking guru Keith Ferrazzi.
5. Similarly, if you need help, always approach your network freely, and be as thoughtful and concise as possible with your request.
6. Be adventurous. Attend as many events as possible and talk to as many people as you can. Whether it is a work related conference or just board games afternoon at your local cafe, go out and engage with people.
7. Maintain your networks. Just like a garden hedge, networks need to be maintained periodically and worked on. Reach out to people via social media or email, try to meet up as frequently as possible. Keep note of special days like birthdays and anniversaries.
Networking is the number 1 unwritten rule of success in business - Sallie Krawcheck.
So go out there, meet new people, and expand your horizons! Gaining a professional or personal addition to your network is always a good thing. Happy Networking!
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