How To Network Like A Pro
Having a solid network has become an important aspect of our working life. When done correctly, networking may give a variety of advantages, including the sharing of information, resources, and ideas that can help you advance your marketing or agency career while also fostering connections.
Meeting individuals one-on-one, having a regular conference call with a mentor or peer, attending professional events, or interacting through social media are all examples of networking.
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Networking may also happen at work, at a meeting, or at a social event. Any circumstance in which you engage with other individuals provides a chance to broaden your network. Our networks are our lifeblood, according to Jive PR + Digital.
Here Are 4 Networking Ideas To Help You Network Like A Pro:
1. Establish Genuine Connections
Networking is more than a numbers game or talking to a large number of individuals. Rather, 20 shallow connections or conversations are preferable to one excellent relationship or discussion.
Focus on building real connections based on listening, reciprocity, and similar interests and objectives, whether you're at a conference or on a casual excursion.
Networking may also lead to lifetime friendships, so offer an invitation first the next time you're at an event. If you're at a conference and strike up a conversation with the person next to you, ask them for lunch or an evening drink.
Initiating the connection in this manner will establish the groundwork for future talks in which you'll almost certainly discover more shared interests.
2. Assisting Your Network
Always give generously and offer before you ask. Inquire about the current projects of others and show genuine interest in what they're working on.
Provide assistance, and if you don't know much about the issue, offer a contact instead. Knowing someone who can assist a contact is the same as assisting them yourself.
Keep in mind that business partnerships are a two-way street as well. It's OK to seek assistance when you want it; most experts are more than willing to share their knowledge and skills.
Be as detailed, succinct, thoughtful, and well-written as possible while making the request. Remember to thank them if they agree to assist you.
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3. Maintain Contact
Communication frequency and reciprocity may assist to improve relationships. Building on existing ties is one of the simplest methods to extend and enhance your network. This might include keeping in contact with old acquaintances or strengthening less visible ones, such as a neighbour or a coworker.
Just to say hey, reach out once every five months or so. Another option is to use social media to keep in contact. To communicate with colleagues, customers, and prospects, we utilize social media sites such as Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
It's one of the most effective methods we've discovered to remain in contact, and we've had a lot of good luck with recruiting thanks to these social media relationships.
4. Make Your Events More Diverse
Attending industry-related conferences or summits helps you to meet individuals who share your interests and allows you to discuss and interact with them on a more personal level.
Another strategy to boost your event networking is to present your skills as a speaker rather than as a participant. Speaking at an event establishes your authority as a thought leader in the field and provides you with a platform to share your knowledge with others.
I like to mix up my events and go to ones I wouldn't ordinarily go to. This allows me to share my expertise with others outside of my own business and get fresh perspectives.
Networking might be intimidating, but with priority, passion, and a development mentality, the investment will pay off. There is no replacement for relationship development when it comes to brand growth.
What Is The Significance Of Networking?
It's simple: knowing the right people can help you get to places you wouldn't otherwise be able to go. The most essential areas where networking may help you are probably gaining new business, finding a job, and developing connections with crucial individuals who can assist you in ways you can't yet foresee.
According to Rothenberg of TheLadders.com, networking brings up new options for you. Networking can be the difference between getting a job and not getting a job, especially in this extremely competitive market.
At the end of the day, it's all about the relationships, and the ones you can form through networking are priceless. “When circumstances are rough, a customer will leave you, but a friend will not,” Misner says.
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Practice, Practice, Practice Is The Best Way To Get Started
Networking might be a daunting task if you've never done it before. The only way to become an expert networker, according to Rothenberg, is to “practice practice practice.” The more you practice, the better you will get.”
To get started, Misner of Business Network International recommends sitting down with a handbook (we have a list of many excellent ones at the conclusion of this article) and studying the fundamentals. You should also join a networking group; Misner categorizes them into four types:
- Networks of casual acquaintances (networking events or industry mixers)
- Networks of knowledge (professional associations)
- A strong network of contacts (groups that meet frequently specifically to build professional relationships, like those run by BNI)
- Online communities (professional social media services, such as LinkedIn)
If at all feasible, you should be involved with at least one of them.
1. Make Yourself Visible
If you're not visible, you won't be able to network. You can't start creating significant connections if people don't know who you are. Many small business owners are so focused on the day-to-day operations of their company that they neglect to actively network, according to Misner. “Make yourself known. It's a contact sport when it comes to networking! “You have to go out and meet people,” he advises.
2. Establish Strong Bonds With Others
“In networking, trust is essential,” explains Misner. Before you can ask your connections for a favour or expect them to offer you business, you must first build genuine, deep relationships with them. “It takes time for people to trust you and develop a connection with you — you have to invest in them,” he says. “VCP,” for example, is one of Misner's favorite acronyms.
- “They know who you are and what you do.” – Visibility: “They know who you are and what you do.”
- “They know who you are and what you do, and they know you're brilliant at it,” she says.
- Profitability: “They are eager to do business with you because they trust you.”
How can you cultivate these networking connections? According to Misner, you should treat your professional interactions as you would in any other relationship. “You have to sit down and get to know the person.”
Make an effort to engage with them on a level other than a business; people bond through common interests, no matter what they are. You've established a strong work relationship when you begin to care about one another.
3. Expand Your Horizons
It is just as crucial to have a diversified network as it is to have a vast network. “Your network becomes insular” if you only know individuals who are similar to you, such as in your career or social circle, according to Misner.
When your network is varied, though, you're more likely to know “connectors,” or individuals who can introduce you to others you would not have met otherwise. And those individuals will be able to assist you in a variety of ways.
4. Continue To Do So
“Every idle minute is an opportunity to E-mail or to contact someone,” says networking expert Keith Ferrazzi in an interview with Inc. magazine. “He makes hundreds of phone calls a day,” the bio says.
He is continually sending emails. He keeps track of people's birthdays and makes it a point to contact them when they have one.” Your network will be worthless if you don't keep it up to date, which requires reaching out on a regular basis.
Misner recommends establishing a game plan with a “scorecard” of networking points for novices. You get a point if you make an active attempt to contact a contact.
Emailing a thank-you message, making a phone call, setting up a meeting, sending someone an interesting article, exhibiting someone else's items in your business, putting someone else's link-up on your Facebook.
These are all examples of networking, and you should do them as frequently as possible. “Keep track of how many touchpoints there are!” “How many times have you contacted me?” Misner inquires. “With today's technology, there is no excuse for not staying in contact.”
5. Give As Much As You Can Back
Giving is an important aspect of networking that many people overlook. “Successful networking is never about just acquiring what you want,” according to Ferrazzi's Inc. biography. It's about achieving what you want and ensuring that others who matter to you also get what they want.”
“It's easy to slip off when you're not actively in need of anything,” Rothenberg admits. But keep in mind that networking is a never-ending game of give-and-take. “You want to be the one people go to when they need anything,” he says.
That includes recommending someone else for a job when you have the opportunity or putting them in contact with someone they should know… “You must give, give, give,” says the narrator.
Reaching Out To A Well-Established Contact Should Be Effortless
Building your network is just one aspect of networking; what happens if you want assistance? The component of networking that makes individuals the most uncomfortable is reaching out to a contact. However, the conversation should not be uncomfortable. That favour will come effortlessly if you've built a strong friendship.
Before you ask for a favour, Rothenberg recommends inquiring what they need or performing a favour for them without being asked. He also says that “people hate saying ‘no.'”
They'll gladly say ‘yes' if you put them in a situation where they can.” Instead of asking for a job, you might ask if they'd be willing to write you a recommendation, which is a much more likely request.
Most significantly, Misner cautions that you should always establish where you are in a relationship before reaching out to someone. “It's not a good idea to send an email to your whole network [asking for a favour] — that's referred to as spamming.'” Depending on how near you are, you must act responsibly and intelligently.
What if you're curious about someone you don't know? “Find that mutual connection,” Rothenberg advises. Even if you have a shaky relationship with someone, it works.”
Attend industry events and don't be afraid to put yourself in a position to meet the person you want to meet. Always keep in mind that you're trying to build a relationship with them, not extracting something from them.
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If You Lose Contact With Someone, Don't Be Afraid To Renew The Connection
You're not out of luck if you've lost connection with a contact you'd want to reconnect with right now. While you should never contact them out of the blue and ask for a favour — “in most circumstances, that would be highly damaging!”
You should not be embarrassed to contact Misner, he says. “Send them an email or give them a call and tell them you want to revive the connection,” Misner advises.
What's the best method to deal with it in the long run? In the first place, don't lose contact. Maintaining your network should always be a priority!
What If You're A Shy Person?
For shy individuals, the idea of networking is the most terrifying. Remember that you're aiming to develop connections, not extracting anything from someone. Plan three intriguing discussion topics to bring to a meeting with a contact, according to Rothenberg.
Make them topics that you'll be thrilled to discuss and that you know will pique their attention. And, of course, practice will help you feel more at ease. He adds, “Make networking a natural part of your everyday existence.”
“Never, ever ask for anything from someone you've just met, who you don't have any connection with,” says Misner of networking. “Networking goes bad when a total stranger says, ‘Let's do business together, connect me up,' and so on…
That is straight selling, not networking.” Above all, Misner emphasizes that networking isn't about throwing out business cards or requesting favours from strangers. “‘Coin-operated networking' is a horrible business practice. In the long term, it doesn't work.”
The Most Important Takeaways
The key to effective networking is to keep in mind that you're attempting to establish genuine, long-term connections with your professional contacts. If your network is composed of individuals you don't know well, it won't be of much use to you; nurturing both the depth and breadth of your network is crucial.
“Networking is more about farming than hunting,” Misner explains. “It's not just about who you know; it's about how well you know them,” says the author.
Networking may seem to be nothing more than a business term, but its value should not be overlooked: keeping in contact with your peers may lead to intriguing chances and improved career prospects.
Business school is an excellent location to begin cultivating your network. “The business school community is like an airport—there are so many different individuals going in and out,” says professor Omid Aschari, managing director of the University of St. Master Gallen's Strategy and International Management program (SIM).
Understanding how to network successfully will be critical for your future success, regardless of your job position. Here are three suggestions to help you expand your professional network:
1. Adopt A Genuine Demeanor In Your Approach
It may go a long way to show that you care about your coworkers, peers, and professional relationships. Rather than utilizing your peers as a launching pad for your career, you should show genuine interest in other people's unique viewpoints and abilities to develop lasting connections.
Consider how you may assist others, such as by listening to a colleague's fresh company concept. “You will receive out of networking what you put into it,” adds Omid.
Business school provides an atmosphere in which you may form true long-term friendships with like-minded individuals. Community gatherings such as the SIM, and the St. Gallen MiM, serve to build these deeper relationships. The SIMopoly is a treasure hunt trail that takes you across the Swiss city of St.Gallen and helps you break the ice with your peers.
There are also more casual events where you may try your hand at preparing another culture's food. These gatherings are a terrific way to get to know your coworkers while working on a common job that gives lots of conversation starters.
2. Push Yourself To Do Something You've Never Done Before
It's common for change to begin at the edge of your comfort zone. This is particularly true when it comes to business school networking. You can lose out on meeting your future business partner or someone with connections to your dream industry if you just approach individuals you know.
Corinna Leist (shown below), a native of Germany, had to start from scratch when she travelled to Switzerland for business school. The SIM was essential in pushing alumna Corinna beyond her comfort zone and giving her the skills she needed to succeed as a consultant at McKinsey Digital.
She attributes her ability to network to her participation in hands-on SIM programs such as the SIMagination Challenge—a hallmark course in which students cooperate in groups to take on sustainable impact projects all around the world.
Corinna finished the project in Guatemala, where she assisted in the construction of hygienic toilet facilities. Corinna's communication skills, confidence, and ability to think on her feet have all improved as a result of learning how to traverse the language barrier while in Guatemala.
She feels that these tools have helped her in her people-oriented position. “Learning how to develop those connections and connect with individuals who have a very different history than myself and whose lives are quite different from those who participate in the SIMagination Challenge was fascinating,” Corinna says.
When talking with peers in a diverse business school cohort, the ability to work with individuals from varied origins and cultures is critical.
Participating in projects that push you out of your comfort zone while also providing excellent networking opportunities is a sure-fire approach to improve your interpersonal skills and ensure you can maintain relationships with individuals from all walks of life.
3. Be Proactive And Ready To Act
Make sure you come ready to network and prepared for networking events, regardless of the scenario. “You should have a clear notion of who you want to talk to and who has the expertise or experience in something you're interested in,” Omid suggests.
If you're networking in business school, maybe someone in your cohort has worked in an area you're interested in and can provide you with some beneficial information—figuring out who the best people to talk to about different subjects can guarantee you're asking the correct questions to the appropriate people.
I trust you enjoyed this article on How To Network Like A Pro. Would you please stay tuned for more articles to come? Take care!
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