Does the idea of networking for a new job or business opportunity seem intimidating to you? This list of must-know tips for professional networking will help you prepare and master the art of relationships.
As a career coach, one of the primary skills I get my clients to build is their networking skills. Networking skills aren’t just about getting what you want, but they’re about connecting, helping, and building reliable relationships. Positive relationships are what open up opportunity to help and be helped.
Networking is scary and, at times, nerve wracking. Armed with information, insight, and confidence, you’ll be able to make connections, achieve goals, and build profitable long term relationships.
1. Look around you. The vast majority of jobs in the world are secured through networking. Or quite simply, through our relationships with people. These relationships can be formal (such as in a business or educational environment) or casual (through family and friends).
2. Networking with purpose. The purpose of networking is to A) Find information B) Enhance visibility (get others to know you’re out there) C) Obtaining opportunity or referrals (opportunity can be as changes to give or to take)
3. Turn to your fan club. Start with people who believe in you and who want to see you succeed. This group includes family, friends, business contacts, church and community service members, teachers, community leaders, and so on. This initial phase in networking will help improve your communication skills and give you the confidence you will need to approach those who do not know you.
4. List your goals and objectives. Make a list of what you want to achieve during the networking process. This can include goals or short-term objectives. Knowing what you want to achieve will help you get to the point faster and more clearly.
5. Study up. If there are people or companies that have yet to know you, take the time to study up on these individuals or organizations so that you sound and appear knowledgeable and like an “insider”.
6. Stay organized. During the job search process, keep a folder with all of the information you’ve gathered on networking contacts or organizations. You never know when you’ll be called in for an interview and you’ll need to refresh your knowledge bank.
7. Look to your employees. Networking contacts also includes people who work for you – this includes service providers such as gardeners, accountants, lawyers, esthetician, dog walker, house keeper and other service professionals. You never know where leads and good information can come from. These people are also happy to help since you are regularly employing them and sending them work.