Networking is a critical skill for those trying to advance their career or grow their business, and actually it might even help you improve some aspects of your social life.
In essence, networking consists in interacting with others to exchange information to develop contacts that can be useful for your career. Therefore, it’s easy to see how relevant it can be for your professional life.
However, as useful as it is, networking isn’t always easy. It can be a challenging task for those who avoid approaching others for fear of coming across as pushy. If you follow these tips you can start networking with the right mindset, aware of all the boxes you must check in order to be successful with your efforts.
Do your homework. Ask questions and try to stay abreast of the most recent developments in your industry. Who are the rising stars? What are the upcoming changes? Gathering the right information will help you identify the people you want to target with your networking. Also, being prepared will be useful to convey a professional and sharp image.
Take Advantage of Social Media
Social media is a trove of information that was unthinkable for people networking five years ago. LinkedIn in particular can be a gold mine for those looking for professional contacts, or trying to compare career trajectories. At any rate, use it judiciously, and keep in mind that social media shouldn’t replace face-to-face interactions.
When it comes to networking, there’s no room for fear. Don’t be afraid to approach people you find interesting from a professional standpoint. Try to stave off nervousness to come across as self-confident and decisive. Being fearless means you should also be ready for rejection. Expect it and put in place a mental strategy to face it.
Strive for a Rewarding Interaction
Rewarding interactions are the currency of human relationships. If you stay positive and upbeat, you’re more likely to leave a lasting impression on the other person. Make eye contact, and show engagement during the exchange. When the conversation ends, don’t forget to mention that you enjoyed the chat and that you look forward to meeting the other person again in the near future.
Finally, don’t forget to follow up. A lackluster attitude afterwards can detract from a great first impression, so make sure to call or send a message if you said you would do so. If possible, send a brief email thanking the other person for their time. A thoughtful message combined with a pleasant interaction in person can lead to a lasting and productive professional relationship.