We’ve all heard the phrase “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” but do you realise just how essential networking is for career advancement and business success? LEAP looks at seven tips on how you can master the skill of networking.
QUALITY NOT QUANTITY
Networking isn’t about knowing the greatest number of people, it’s about connecting with people who can help you make a success of your career or company. Make a list of all the people who you think will be able to assist you in overcoming obstacles in your professional life, and then rate them in importance. This will help you prioritise who you should meet.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
The internet is an easy source of information, so before you attend your next networking event, research the people on your list. Find out what interests them (from hobbies to charities) and use these in your discussion. It indicates to the person that you are interested in them and that you’ve put a bit of effort into your research before being introduced. Additionally, having common ground (perhaps you went to the same school?) makes it easier to have a connection.
ASK FOR AN INTRODUCTION
When there is a specific person you want to meet, find them on social media and see if you have a common acquaintance. First prize would be if they work in the same company. Contact your connection and ask them to introduce you at the next networking event. Being introduced by a mutual contact gives you more credibility.
DIVERSITY IS KEY
While it is only natural that you network with people who are similar to you, diversity is important. By expanding your connections it strengthens your network, and provides you with a golden opportunity to do business with people from a completely different social circle.
Everyone tries to speak to someone who is higher up the ladder or has deeper pockets, but you should also make time for other people. Juniors who are smart, forward-thinking and knowledgeable could help you in a few years’ time when they are in a position of influence.
GIVE BEFORE YOU GET
A sure-fire way of losing a contact is to ask for help before building up their trust. You need to form a relationship and first show them how they can benefit from knowing you. Add value without immediately expecting something in return.
Now that you’ve made contact, be sure to maintain the connection. The day after you’ve met, be in touch and thank the person for the meeting, and mention something personal from the conversation that you had. To keep yourself top of mind, go through your database of contacts and keep in touch on a regular basis.
Networking is about more than just collecting business cards, it’s about building relationships and increasing your circle of contacts, and this takes time. Everyone can and should network, as making the right connections will help you succeed and will grow your business.
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