Networking means to form relationships with others in like or related fields that help to expand ones’ effectiveness in an organization or industry.
A key element to effective networking is to make yourself known. The premise being that the more people you meet, the more people there will be to get to know you and remember who you are. Use every professional and social opportunity to meet and connect with new people.
Making friends and letting people get to know you is an important aspect of networking. It is important to let the people you meet get to know who you are, how you think and how you would react in situations. Being open, honest and comfortable with just being yourself is the best way to do that.
It is important that you leave those you meet with a positive impression of you. They need to be sent the message that you are competent and pleasant to deal with. Being optimistic and excited about what you do makes them remember you and want to maintain a connection with you. A key to this is to be diligent about returning emails and phone calls to maintain your credibility with them. It’s amazing how credibility takes you a long way in your career.
5 Advantages of Professional Networking
1. Business Leads
Networking is a great way to acquire new business leads. Using the contacts you make when you meet people can open doors for business opportunities. Use professional communications when you follow up on leads. People want to help others but aren’t interested in someone badgering them for business. Be sensitive to timing and use common courtesy when following up with contacts.
2. Career Opportunities
Statistics show that networking is the best way to land a new job. Networking can expose you to jobs that aren’t posted online or in newspapers. Making others know that you are looking for a job and what your expertise and experience is could open career doors of opportunity.
3. Personal Opportunities
Networking can be a personal benefit also. Relationships you develop can be used for identifying practical solutions to everyday life. As an example you can use your network to identify a contractor to do a remodeling project on your home or help you find an athletic club for your children. Weaving personal conversations into your network helps others get to know you in an intimate way and helps build the relationship.
4. Identify Best Practices
Networking is a great way to identify business best practices or industry benchmarks. Learning from what others do is a valuable strategy for all businesses.
5. New Business Trends
Networking can help you stay on the cutting edge of technology and new business trends. These types of relationships and “inside” information can give you an advantage over your competitors by implementing new and fresh ways of doing things.
Having said all of this, networking is a skill and some people are just naturally more gifted at mingling with people they don’t know and making friends on first contact. Practice being friendly and learn the art of striking up conversations. Learn the trick to remembering people’s names that you meet. Get a system; write something specific about a person on the back of their business card so you can remember them when you get back to your office.
Does anyone have success stories to share through networking?