Whether you need a new job, a new client, or to hone your skills further, making personal connections are essential.
Learning to network effectively is the key to building loyal relationships, levelling up your career, and achieving professional goals.
This guide teaches you the basics of networking, the steps, and the best advice to network effectively and stand out against the competition.
1. What Are The Three Essential Networking Basics?
The principal components of networking are:
Networking Is Not About Calling and Asking People For A Favour
Networking Doesn't Mean an Opportunity To Brag About Yourself
Networking Isn't A One-Time Job
2. What Are The Four Stages Of Networking?
Here are the four stages of networking in sequential order:
Stage 1: Research
Networking starts with identifying the main things and people you need to network with.
Once identified, research them through online and offline channels such as websites, social media channels, and the people within your network to gather as much information as possible.
Stage 2: The Approach
In this step, you must consider contacting the new person/group. Choose the approach carefully, as first impressions matter. Cold contacting is one of the best ways to approach someone. However, it is less effective than taking the help of another person who can introduce you to that contact.
People who can make a warm introduction on your behalf:
Friends and family
College or School mates
Current or past employees
Other contacts, such as administrators, professors, and so on
Stage 3: Reconnect With Old Contacts
Scroll through your contact list to find valuable contacts with whom you have yet to be in touch. Once done, figure out ways to reconnect with them.
Remind them how you know each other, where you met, when was the last time you spoke, and something that shows genuine interest.
Stage 4: The Follow Up
After you make contact, the immediate next step is to follow up and maintain the networking contact. It could be by attending a marketing event, a networking meeting, or an interview.
Remember, the key to building a solid network is to contact people without expecting anything. Reinstate your network by reaching out to people regularly without requesting anything.
If you intend to maintain a long-term connection, follow up with that person many times a year. Follow up in a way that focuses on what you can do for them, not vice versa.
Some of the good reasons for follow-up could be:
To announce a life change
To wish them on their life events or just season's greetings
To pass on relevant and enriching articles that could spark conversation.
To inform people about opportunities that may interest them.
To introduce a new contact
To make a recommendation
To say thank you
To say "hello."
3. What Are The Three "P's" Of Networking?
Learning how to network effectively at an event is crucial to building relationships and networks. Read on to learn the three secrets to making a good and reliable network that can lead to new customers, partners and opportunities.
Successful networking is a two-way street. Be better equipped to deal with anything that comes your way.
When planning to attend a networking event, make sure you prepare some basic questions to ask. It will help you feel more at ease and more successful networking.
Listed below are a few ice-breaker questions that help create rapport and give a better idea of how you can help the other person:
What do you love to do the most in your job?
What got you started in the business?
What are the key challenges you faced while working?
How can I help you?
Refrain from going to a networking event or participating in a forum aimlessly.
You will know if you are successful only when you recognize your purpose in networking. Make sure you don't network to sell your service or product. Instead, find out how you can HELP someone else.
Once you are "Prepared" with a "Purpose," the last P's you need to become comfortable and successful at networking is to be "Present ."
Set your profile on professional social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Upload a current photo, and ensure the information is up-to-date.
Most successful networkers mention their skills and how they can benefit others on the 'About Us Page' of the profile. It helps leave a favourable impression on people who views their profile, thereby improving their networking prospects.
4. What Are The Five Key Aspects Of Networking?
Networking is crucial to business building, particularly for freelancers and entrepreneurs.
Here we have listed five main aspects of networking that will help your professional networking at any stage of your career:
Create Win/Win Situations To Produce A Robust Network
If you look for a relationship to create a long-term business impact, there will always be some benefit for the parties involved. It could be referrals, money, advice, services, introductions to others, or about anything desirable.
Understand the significance of finding win/win situations and opportunities to develop such relationships.
Change Your Focus From Getting To Giving
Unlike most designers, look for ways to help others in their career without thinking about the rewards you will get.
When you approach networking with this attitude, others will appreciate you for being genuinely helpful and will be more willing to return the favour when the opportunity arrives.
Don't wait for opportunities to fall in your lap. Be proactive and approach people. Initiate conversations with people and get to know them. Professional conferences, conventional face-to-face meetings, and emailing are ways worth trying.
Choose Quality Over Quantity
Know that quality matter more than the number of connections. You don't need loads of people to strengthen your network. A smaller network with fewer but stronger connections can make your network effective.
Be Someone Who Others Love To Work With
When it comes to professional relationships, LIKE attracts LIKE. People prefer working with someone who they like rather than who are expert in their niche. Be yourself, easy to work with, friendly, and considerate.
This way, your connection may materialize into a lasting business relationship.
5. What Are The 7 Practical Steps For Networking?
Are you a reluctant networker and want to know how to network at work effectively? This section shares some simple networking steps to connect with people skillfully and efficiently.
Step 1: Go With A Plan
Don't consider networking as a means to sell your talent. It is an opportunity to educate people about the value you can offer them to benefit their professional goals.
Think about the audience and what you want to accomplish from the event:
Do you want to expand your network with people of similar trades or industries?
Do you want to develop a referral source by connecting with people with the same or similar clients?
Step 2: Reach The Event Early Before People Arrive
This is to make the most out of the opportunity.
Step 3: Don't Hesitate And Meet People
Start a conversation with casual questions to find out how friendly and forthcoming the person is. Be the one who asks questions and shows yourself interested in the conversation than interesting.
Connect them to their feelings. Be confident and highlight any similarities between you and them. It will help increase the connection between you and them. Remember not to come off as dominating during the conversation.
Step 4: Ask For Their Business Card
It shows your interest in them and helps you follow up with them after the event.
Step 5: Work as a Connector And Introduce People
Another step in effective networking is to work as a connector and introduce people.
Step 6: Arrive at an Event In A Team
You don't need to stand together, but if the need arises, you can call the other person and introduce them as a trusted expert. Listening to your praises from others before introduction instils a considerable amount of trust.
Step 7: Networking Is a Longer Game Than Expected
It is unlikely to walk out of the event with a handful of clients. You will need to follow up on the new connections within a couple of days after the meeting to ensure your hard work brings you the results.
6. What Are Five Strategies For Effective Networking?
Here are simple networking techniques to build and maintain your network effectively:
Networking With a Purpose Makes It Impactful
Consider three areas before reaching out to people:
Your current role
Your professional goals
Your personal development
Identify people within your network who can help you develop in these areas and nurture and support those relationships.
Make Deliberate Efforts To Build Your Network
Take time to revive your social and work relations with whom you last spoke a while ago. Social media, such as Twitter, and LinkedIn, could be good conversation starters. Use it to your advantage.
The Real Significance of Networking Lies In Helping Others
Keep looking out for opportunities to network with people. A professional networking event is an excellent opportunity to present yourself, form new connections, and even find a new job.
Regularly Manage and Update Your Online Profile
Ensure your profile on the social media handles you use is up-to-date. It is crucial as the new contacts you reach out to will look at your profile or Google you to know more about you.
You should review online profiles that remove any off-putting comments before reaching out to a new contact.
Keep Your Conversation Casual
Last but not least, whether you meet someone new, or talk to an existing contact, keep the conversation simple without expecting anything from it.
Don't look to 'meet useful people' or 'get a job'; 'begin some new conversations.
Ask questions and listen to their answers with interest and a smile. Let the conversation flow, and such a series of conversations will help build connections between you.
7. Practical Networking Tips For Beginners
Here are the top 14 tips for networking successfully and enjoying doing it:
Tip 1: Meet A New Contact Through Other People
The easiest way to learn how to network when you don't know anyone is to meet people through referrals. Be with those you know and either join in their conversations or get yourself introduced through them.
It will receive a warm welcome from the person you want to connect with.
Tip 2: Unleash The Power Of Social Media
Use social media to your advantage if you have no one to introduce you to and want to learn how to network yourself.
LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus, and more are excellent ways to get in touch with like-minded or key contacts better without dealing with the stress of a face-to-face meeting you aren't prepared for.
Getting acquainted online makes it easier to communicate in one-on-one meetings.
Tip 3: Network Before You Begin Job Search
To learn how to network as a student to build professional connections, begin networking with people before you even commence your job hunt.
When you network with people without ulterior motives, you form relationships and a reputation for being a generous networker rather than a self-serving one.
This way, you will already have contacts to leverage when looking for a job. Additionally, find mentors who can guide and support you throughout your career.
Tip 4: Be Mentally Prepared
Before you attend a networking event, make sure you have the purpose of doing it. You should have a clear goal of why you want to network and whom you want to meet. One of the reasons could be to find potential clients, business opportunities, employees, or mentors you want to connect with.
A clear goal is essential to prepare effectively and stay focused during networking events. It makes your conversations meaningful, precise, and better aligned with your connections.
Tip 5: Wear The Right Attitude
The famous saying is, "First impression is the last impression." When meeting someone new, it is essential to show your best self. Your presence should radiate positivity, sincerity, and confidence around you.
One of the fundamental and overlooked tools to network effectively is Smile. Being an invitation to network, your Smile projects you as a friendly, approachable, and self-assured person.
Additionally, don't apologize for introducing yourself to make an excellent first impression. Networking novices often do this when trying to forge new relationships.
If you relate to this habit, you need to stop it, as it indicates insecurity and fear of rejection. Instead, cultivate self-confidence and self-belief that will help you build positive relations.
Tip 6: Prepare Some Conversation Starters
Networking for the first time can be intimidating. Along with the right attitude, you also need preparation to network on your own successfully.
When meeting a group of people, don't make the mistake of making a statement. Leading a question is a better way to show interest in joining the discussion.
Here are a few questions you can use to start a conversation:
What work do you do?
What made you attend this event?
How do you find the event?
Do you know any of the speakers?
Alternatively, you can also come up with an industry trend or topic and ask them about their opinion.
TIp 7: Widen Your Reach
The networking function is a great opportunity that you should make the best use of. Speak with as many people as possible.
After an introductory discussion, exchange business cards and schedule the next meeting for a more detailed discussion. It will prevent you from spending time talking to a few people.
Tip 8: Be An Active Listener
The first step to being a good communicator is to be a good listener. Only when you listen attentively can you respond effectively.
One of the best techniques to get people into a conversation is to allow them to talk. It is because almost all of us love to talk, but only some are interested in listening.
Start practising active listening by asking people questions about themselves. While they speak, be genuinely interested in what they say and appreciate them if you like. It is a trick for a successful conversation that will undoubtedly lead to a connection.
Tip 9: See The Value In Each Person
Refrain from discounting anyone as insignificant based on their titles. Know that every person has some value to offer.
A person working at a lower designation may also help you with valuable contacts or knowledge you would never learn about if you had dismissed them.
Tip 10: Don't Ask For A Job
Don't do networking to ask for a favour. Come with space for "Giving" and "Helping Others ." You will find your work gets done when you help people selflessly. It is the beauty of networking when done without expecting.
Aim to build a relationship and establish rapport so your connection may be willing to recommend you when a potential opportunity arises.
Tip 11: Connect With People Outside Your Industry
Most of us focus on networking with people within the same industry. According to the Harvard Business Review, networking based on differences is equally helpful as networking based on commonalities and should be a part of your networking strategy.
Networking with people of different industry backgrounds provides you with varied perspectives and may benefit you if you decide to switch careers in the future.
Tip 12: Don't Take Up Much Time
Another golden rule of networking is to value people's time. Have a plan and keep the meeting on track. It will help you establish a sense of professionalism, gain trustworthiness and cover all the key areas you had on your agenda.
Tip 13: End A Conversation Gracefully
Take your time with a conversation. Just like starting a conversation, you have to end it properly to cast a good impression. Your polite and graceful gestures can go a long way in making the conversation successful.
Sentences such as "Please connect with me if you need anything" and present your business card, or "Please let me know how the project progresses; I would love to hear how it turns out."
Thank your contact for the knowledge and information they shared with you. Maintain notes of each interaction you had with them for personalized future correspondence.
Tip 14: Maintain Your Connection
On finding a connection with whom you want to add to your professional circle, you must nurture the relationship with constant communication, care, and sharing.
Appreciate your connection's time and support by giving back something of value - a relevant post, a helpful business contact, or a personalized thank-you message.
Stay connected through social media, phone, or face-to-face meetings if your offices are nearby.
Networking is a continuous process and not something that you can master overnight. It requires time, persistence, attention, organization, goodwill, and experience.
Continue networking as you progress in your career, and maintain the existing relationships to help yourself and your contacts find success.
Ensure you include these simple successful networking tips in your job search, and you will find opportunities and build lasting relationships.
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