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.
15. Practice excellent telephone skills. Make sure you have a business appropriate voicemail message, you respond promptly to calls and inquiries, you don’t keep people on hold for excessive periods of time, and that you answer your phone politely. While you’re at it, be sure to take calls when you’re not driving, shopping, or distracted. Your behavior indicates your seriousness and respect for those who want to help you.
16. Compensate others for their time and information. Networking goes both ways. If you ask someone out for a drink to discuss a subject, be sure to buy them a drink. If you go to lunch with an old colleague, offer to buy their meal. Invest in your relationships by showing small acts of goodwill. If they insist otherwise, be sure to remember their kindness and offer help to them whenever they need it.
17. A little flattery goes a long way. If you have followed my advice from these previous parts, then you will have studied your networking partners and their associated companies. This knowledge will afford you the ability to compliment their work, their products, and any of their achievements. Tactful flattery shows interest and enthusiasm about your networking partners. Don’t be afraid to use your charms every once in a while.
18. Follow-up every time. After every single networking opportunity, be sure to follow up with your networking contacts. Thoughtfully mention the things they said that helped you and thank them for their insight and advice. When possible, mail a thank you note or call them to personally say things. Following up means you care about your networking contacts and that you are consistent and reliable.
19. Stay in touch. Even if a networking contact helps you just once or may not be able to help you at all for your present campaign, it doesn’t mean you should write them off or fall off the face of the earth. Follow up on a regular basis to see how they are doing, let them know of your progress, and so on.
20. Socialize and have fun. Networking is a social activity which means we must connect with people and enjoy the interactions. Networking can happen in a professional context, a casual one, and even while having fun. Get out and enjoy yourself – people love to be around people who love themselves and can enjoy their lives.
21. Carry calling cards. You never know when opportunity might present itself. Hand out calling cards to those who are interested in following up with you. It’s better than searching for a pen and paper or trying to call someone’s cell phone in a busy environment.
22. Make it an everyday thing. Networking is not just a day reserved one a month, but what you do on a daily basis. Be sure to consciously keep your networking campaign at the front of your mind and allow daily opportunities to present themselves. Actively engage on these opportunities. Regular habit makes networking natural and enjoyable.
23. Let go of your fears. Let go of the fear of rejection. Let go of the fear of hearing NO. Let go of your own judgments and assumptions. Fear is what paralyzes good people from making great relationships. Understand that mistakes will happen, connections will not always be made, and opportunities will not always happen when you expect them to. Embrace life’s spontaneity and the unknown, your wildest dreams are hiding behind your expectations.