Networking: 5 Tips for Success
Networking can sound like a dirty word, or the one thing that kept you afloat when the recession hit.
It works like a maths sum. You get back what you put in plus what the people in your network add to the relationship. As long as you have a positive attitude and focus your efforts, it is almost impossible to lose out in the networking game.
Most people, especially those who have attained increasing career advancements, have developed networking skills.
With the social networking websites and business networking round tables, the word networking has taken on a formal role within the business world. These are great opportunities to enhance your circle, but networking should not be left at the door on your way back home.
It’s more like a lifestyle, and it can be cultivated. And, since it is possible to become introspective when work keeps you busy, here are 5 tips to keep you at the top of the networking game.
Focus on people who you want to know.
It’s true that you won’t know whether you want to know someone before you approach them. Even if they are known to you beforehand, it is no guarantee you want to spend any time getting to know them after the meeting. If you don’t like them, you won’t want to help them out with your connections. Instead, focus on the people whose company you enjoy. Take time to chat before handing over your card and invest in the relationship once you have done so.
Begin with the people you already know, but not well.
Get to know them better; find out what their spouses and friends and cousins do. If your memory can not keep up with all the information, invest in a good address book so you can keep your notes organised. It isn’t all about business; it is a system of recommendations which can range from housekeeping services to high-level contracts. All of it serves to make your life easier, not more complicated. And you may just make incredible friends in the process.
Get to know the people who already seem to know everyone
These are the people who can recommend a trustworthy plumber at 7 in the evening, or the writer you need for a quick brochure. It isn’t a hard and fast rule, but you can guess that most of the people they know already like them. And, if that is true, then they will probably be a pretty likeable person and you will too. It may seem wise to work within your industry, but networking works a lot better if you diversify. The plumber is just a case in point; who knew your boiler would burst when you’ve just met a charming young contractor at a dinner party?
It isn’t networking if you don’t follow up!
Once you receive a card, do something with it. Send an email or give them a call. Invite them to a nearby cafe for a cup of coffee, just do something with it. Then maintain that relationship. Sure, you may not need a day care service right now, but someone in your circle just might need one in a few months. It is embarrassing to make that call when you are in a bind if you haven’t maintained a relationship with that person.
Make the first move
Don’t wait for someone else to give you their contacts. When you network, look out for the people in your circle as well as yourself. Of course, you want to share the number of the catering company your cousin runs. In return, your cousin may put you in touch with the low-cost printer she uses, whose number you might pass on in exchange for an introduction to the client you have been trying to woo for months.
Networking is the ultimate example of the pay it forward model.
This is part of Networking month on the Rethink Retreats blog. Read these other great posts:
And do please share your thoughts below – we love to hear your tips.