Networking is one of those tasks we dread. However, it is also one of those activities that can do most to propel our career and our interests forward. Understanding how you can successfully network requires confidence mixed with some skill. Here we explore how you can get started in the world of networking with these beginner’s tips and tricks.
Understanding the purpose of networking
To make a success out of networking, you need to be clear why you are doing it. Although it will feel a lot like socialising, you are propelling your career onto the next level. You are looking to make connections with people who will help you progress with your future business idea. The people you pass your business card could be an angel investor or someone who can offer the logistics to move a proposition forward.
To be clear on your purpose, you are there to exchange information and details. You are seeking to establish a relationship and nurture this so that in the future, there might be some mutually beneficial transaction.
Networking is not a sales trip, and neither are you there to beg favours. If all you are doing is asking for things, you will soon find that networking harms your career. Although you are not making friends, as such, you are seeking out likeminded people who could be interested in future propositions.
The skill of networking is recognising an opportunity when it arises and following up on this at the right time.
Understanding how networking can increase your success
If you are a curious and strident profession, you will want to know why you should go through the binds of networking. You will want to know what is in it for you. The simple answer to this challenge is that the more connected you are in most sectors, the higher your success. You are not wasting time or money by networking; you are not off on a jolly either. You are investing time in your professional relationships so that you have a store of options available to you in the future. You are maximising your career potential.
How to be effective
You now have a clear vision of what networking is and why it is essential to you. Do not underestimate the power of a clear understanding of your purpose when ensuring your success in an endeavour. If you are just doing it because you have been told to, you are unlikely to get the most out of the experience. Now you need to know how to go about networking in a way that will garner future success.
First, not everybody can hope to network in the same way. In fact, if you take on the role of networker extraordinaire, you will lack a degree of authenticity that will ultimately work to build relationships. Consequently, you need to adapt your approach depending on whether you are a natural introvert or extrovert. If you are quite shy, you might prosper in networking sessions of only a few people. Going out for coffee will be much more comfortable for you than going to a massive conference with thousands of people milling about.
However, if you are an extrovert and just love to mingle and party, then you should look at more significant events where your natural exuberance won’t overawe the group. Remember building rapport and relationships is about reciprocity. If you are doing all the talking and none of the listening, you will not make the connections you hoped to make. Therefore, being part of a bigger crowd will naturally dampen some of your over-excitement and allow you to share your energy around lots of people.
Next, you need to do your research. Where should people in your line of a business network? It does not have to be a formal business to get together to be a valid networking experience. You could join a group on meetup, for instance, that gathers likeminded people in a single space to undertake a hobby like walking or to create a professional support group. You should consider going to university reunions and book launches, those experiences that feel pointless on the surface but could offer significant opportunity if approached right.
Finally, though most importantly, you must follow up. If you have been given a business card and made promises to follow up on an idea or conversation, you should do this. You might not feel it could go anywhere, but you are attempting to build and strengthen relationships. Therefore, doing what you promised has to be one of the most essential pieces of advice we could give.