A strong network is a vital aspect of any professional life. Thought leaders and career coaches have emphasized the importance of establishing a network of people who are committed to support you with your goals and pursuits. Why? Because networks bring great results.
According to a survey conducted by The Adler Group and LinkedIn, 85% of all jobs were filled through networking. A robust network is made up of connections that are built upon mutual development and growth. This is different from the quasi-connections most of us make from collecting business cards at networking events or on social media. With shallow connections, the opportunities to foster mutual growth and development are rare. Clearly, strong connections are a must!
Here are ten tips that can help you maximize your networking opportunities.
1. When attending networking events, have a specific goal in mind.
Qualify and quantify your goal. For instance, aim to make at least five meaningful conversations and connections during the event. Assigning a specific goal while attending events will allow you to strategize and plan on how to maximize your time.
2. Make it easy for people to approach and talk to you.
When someone enters your periphery, be the first to acknowledge and greet. Maintain an open and warm demeanor. Nod, smile and look at people in the eyes. Our body language can draw people in or repel them.
3. Meaningful conversations and connections are achieved by asking better questions.
Ditch the whole “What do you do for a living?” spiel. Get people to talk about what they want. Ask questions like: “What project are you currently working on?” or “What would you rather do if you were not in your current profession?”
4. Avoid negative talk.
One of the major pitfalls when attending networking events is the tendency to bond over negative topics. Do not open conversations by complaining about the event or the weather. Instead, try to complement the organizers by stating how their registration process was orderly. The main point is to steer clear of negative topics.
5. Achieve conversation balance by learning how to listen.
Resist the urge to do all the talking. In the same light, do not barrage the other person with so many Make sure that there is a balanced ebb and flow in conversations when talking to people in networking events.
6. Move around, meet and mingle with other people.
Staying in one place or sticking with one person limits your networking capacity. This also applies to the person you’re with throughout the event.
7. Be ready to offer help.
Give rather than take. This is one of the networking tips that goes against the grain of networking events. Mutual development and growth are one of the marks of a healthy professional network. Offer assistance, and see how you can help others achieve their career goals.
8. Connect people, be a matchmaker.
Be interested in how people with similar passions can collaborate. Asking good questions allows you to learn about the things people are passionate about. This opens up an opportunity to connect people who share the same pursuit. Introduce them to each other.
9. Explore other ways to widen your network.
Don’t limit yourself to networking events to meet people. Utilize your affiliations such as your university, professional organizations, and special interest groups. It will be much easier to connect with people within this circle because you share something in common.
10. Have fun while networking.
Meeting new people should not be taken as a tedious and dreary task. Be inspired by how kids make friends. Talk to people with genuine curiosity. Treat each encounter as a potential friend for life. Connections are more sincere and organic when people are having a great time.
Technology makes it easier to meet people. But sifting through hundreds or thousands of connections and impersonal automated messaging makes meaningful connections are hard to come by. You have the power to change this. Make your connections count.