How often have you thought to yourself: “What is networking and how do I do it?” Well don’t worry you are not alone! The idea of networking can seem daunting and uncomfortable when it’s really quite easy. Once you understand these basic concepts you will be on your way to make valuable connections that are mutually beneficial and will help you in your career.
Here are a few tips to help you get you started:
1) Be yourself and use your personality.
2) Reconnect with colleagues, old friends, distant relatives and strengthen your existing connections. Starting a simple dialogue with them can open a networking opportunity that was previously laying dormant.
3) Be approachable.
4) Talk to people wherever you go. This means parties, weddings, airports, at the metro, sporting events, grocery markets…. basic rule of thumb: if there are people around you should talk to them, even if it is a simple hello.
5) Ask open ended questions to keep the conversation flowing. In other words, ask questions that require an in depth answer and that cannot be quickly answered with a simple yes or no.
6) Be an active listener. Showing a genuine interest in what the other party is saying provides a comfort level for them and instills trust that they can vouch for you in a networking situation.
7) Keep up to date business cards with you at all times and be comfortable with handing them out.
8) Stay in touch with people, even if they cannot help you out immediately. This shows that your connection is genuine and you are not simply using them when you are desperate.
9) Take advantage of Social Media outlets. Online networking sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter are great resources to find out information about professional mixers in your area.
10) Remember that you are amazing, you are interesting and you can do this!