It’s International Networking Week—do you know the top tips for growing your network? Whether you’re looking for a new job or just trying to meet people in the same field, networking is a key component of your professional development. Here are some of our favorite networking tips, linked to the original articles that have even more advice on how to network your way to wherever you want to go.
Give yourself goals – develop a networking plan that details who you will call and email, how many people you will contact per week and how you will approach the request for a meeting. Research and create a list of specific contacts and start with the easiest people on your list. They will provide great networking practice in addition to being helpful for your search. (from Networking Tips for Introverts)
Decide who you want to meet in advance. At a conference I attended recently, several people came up to me who recognized me from my website. One gal in particular shouted, “I’m so excited to meet you, I have been a fan of yours for years and I can’t believe I get to meet you in person.” I was so flattered! I could tell she was nervous when she approached me, possibly wondering how I would react to her enthusiasm, but I was incredibly happy to meet a fan – and even happier to get to know her.
TIP: Look at the attendee list of the event beforehand. If there’s someone you genuinely want to meet, make an effort to do so. They’ll be happy you did! (from 5 Networking Tips For People Who Hate Networking)
Hold volunteer positions in organizations. This is a great way to stay visible and give back to groups that have helped you. (from 10 Tips for Successful Business Networking)
Share your passion. Win people over with your enthusiasm for your product or service. Leave a lasting impression by telling a story about why you were inspired to create your company. Talking about what you enjoy is often contagious, too. When you get other people to share their passion, it creates a memorable two-way conversation. (from 7 Tips for Networking | Entrepreneur.com)
Don’t forget to use online networking tools. When all else fails (or seems too daunting), don’t forget that social networking websites like Twitter and LinkedIn are great ways to start a new connection. You can figure out who is best to network with, make initial contact, and then prepare for a one-on-one meeting or phone call. (from 9 Networking Tips to Shake Your Shyness)
Do what you say you will do. You are done. You went to the event, worked the room because you had a plan, and you executed on that plan. Sure, you were a little nervous before every new encounter, but it got easier as the night progressed. Now, it’s time to act. Take up your new connection’s offer to help. People attend events because they are social opportunities to meet new business connections, share their platform, and learn new things. The rules of dating do not apply. Don’t wait; follow-up promptly. Be persistent while also being respectful of your new connection’s time. (from Networking Tips: Go from Awkward to Awesome | Inc.com)
Be the person that everyone wants to know. You can do this by being a great connector. Constantly ask good questions and learn about those you come across. Once you know more about someone’s ideal referral you can begin going through your database. (from Insider Tips for Networking like a Pro)