Networking is an art. It takes some time to cultivate the connections and the methodologies. Networking should not be done just for the sake of collecting contacts, but with forethought – a goal in mind. The excuses that some people use to NOT network are just holding them back. You don’t have to be an extrovert or an “E” on the Myers-Briggs personality scale to be able to connect with people. Even introverts can network if they understand the reasons and tactics behind the science of networking.
You have to make a conscious decision of what you want to accomplish by networking. Let’s say it is to make contact with certain professionals at specific companies in which you are interested in working. Perhaps you just want information about what the culture is like at a specific company or you want to know about their business prospects for the next six to 12 months. You network in order to gain valuable information to position yourself as the person they want to hire next.
Networking can be done anywhere and at any time. Here are some tips:
- Use social skills – make eye contact, have a firm handshake – web to web, smile, and nod your head
- Attend functions – seminars, workshops, conferences, lectures and group meetings, job fairs, entrepreneurial events, business launches
- Join professional organizations in or related to your career path
- Create a killer profile and put it up on LinkedIn, Google Profile or other professional sites
- Use social media to get yourself out there – Facebook. Twitter, etc.
- Read blogs and comment on them
- Create your own blog and share your knowledge
- Listen to Podcasts and join the discussions
- Start working your existing network in order to create more useful connections
- Shy people can network just as easily as extroverts by being great listeners – everyone else loves to talk about themselves
- Network with everyone, not just people in your field of expertise or knowledge
I started attending regular sessions on Podcasts and discussion groups. The purpose was to network and to build my brand in order to create a buzz. This is one method you can use when you want to get out there. You could try attending business presentations and try your hand at business small talk. You start with listening intently and then move onto offering your opinion. One always networks with a purpose and it pays off.
Remember, networking is not done for just for networking sake. The idea is to gain useful contacts who can further you in your career path. It works both ways. People will want to connect to you for your contacts, knowledge, position and expertise as well. You soon become known as a subject matter expert and are in hot demand, all because you are networking.
I network online, in person, on the phone and via email. Many people only use one or two forms of communication. Don’t forget those old contacts that you have not spoken with in a long time. What about the people whom you worked with four or five jobs ago? All of these contacts need to be nurtured, cultivated and worked upon, like a garden. Networking takes work and is a job that should be in constant motion.
To become an efficient networker, like Queen Schmooze, you need to put in the effort. Your return on investment will show when colleagues will turn to you as a valuable resource. Managers will notice your efforts and promotions will be forthcoming. Other people in your field will look to you for your knowledge. You will be asked for your opinion as a Subject Matter Expert. The rewards for your hard work are countless, so why not start today! Networking is easy when you put in the effort.
Here is my presentation on Networking: Learning How to Network Final