Networking is a skill that should never be underestimated. Building in-person relationships is extremely beneficial in business.
With how we network easier than ever with the advent of social media and new apps, now is the time to hone your skills.
Offer help where you can and make a tangible difference to others first. If you add value, success and reward will be returned. Share information, knowledge and insight to help others; when payback finally comes, it could be extremely profitable and worthwhile.
Building relationships is primarily focused around connecting emotionally. Sharing a personal side of yourself and making small talk is how you can find shared interests and commonality. This will move you from being a new face to someone worth knowing.
Networking is not a one-way street; you must show interest rather than just being interesting. Be knowledgeable and share information, but also be responsive and reactive to the other party. Show interest in their backstory, what drives them, and how they got where they are.
Be the real you. Never portray someone you are not, as it will become exhausting and the other party will distance themselves and question your integrity. This is not the goal in business networking.
Proactively follow up with any contacts you have made. Staying in touch and sharing information can be extremely beneficial in business. If you promise to action something, ensure you do and confirm once completed. Be thoughtful, as small things often make the difference.
The end goals
What do you want to achieve by networking? Do you want to build business contacts, find a new job, or build relationships with similarly-minded individuals? Create a plan that outlines your goals, the results you want, the connections you plan to make, and how you will make these connections. Time is precious, so network with meaning.
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Change your mindset
Networking can intrude our comfort zone, making us feel anxious and nervous. Create a clear plan to ease your anxiety and shift your mindset. Put yourself in control of who you are networking with and why.
Networking is about you – yourself and your knowledge are your greatest assets.