5 Tips for Successful Networking
Networking is a key component to any professional career. It’s necessary to connect with others in your industry, pursue job opportunities, and expand your business network.
Whether you work from home or in a traditional office, it’s important to network every so often. Some of the best job and career opportunities come about by knowing someone in the right company, and building relationships is the key to this strategy. Although any time you can put yourself out there via networking opportunities, there are some networking tips and tricks that will make your time and effort more effective.
Know your goal(s)
When you go to a networking event, establish your goal or goals for the evening. Do you want to secure a job opportunity? Are you hoping to meet a specific person? Are you looking for a business alliance? Knowing your goal going into the event will help you get more out of it. A goal can be as simple as getting 5-10 business cards – as long as you can establish it ahead of time.
While you shouldn’t ignore others or additional opportunities beyond your goal, setting one can give you a target and a sense of accomplishment once it’s completed.
Dress the part
Networking isn’t always a formal event, but it’s always a chance to dress your best. Dress the part you’re looking for – business person, business owner, job applicant, and so on. Does your outfit match your goal and the venue? Is it appropriate for the type of event you’re attending? Your outfit and appearance can also provide a lot of confidence, so don’t discard it as something unimportant; it can really give you that boost you need! If you’re unsure of the dress code, contact the event organizer or a friend that will also be in attendance.
Give out cards
Sometimes we’re so focused on receiving business cards that we don’t give ours out nearly enough. While it’s more important that you receive cards so that you can follow up, it helps that others have your information as well. If you don’t own or work for a company yet, order inexpensive business cards with your name and contact information.
Even if you don’t secure the job that you hoped for, or you don’t get to talk to the person you set out to meet, you never know what a networking event might bring. You could end up receiving an unexpected call that truly alters the course of your professional career. Hand out your cards after you connect with someone, as it’s a habit that can truly help you.
Know what you offer
Also known as the “elevator speech” – know what you bring to the table. If you’re seeking a job, have a brief 30-60 second commercial that details what you’re looking for and what you can bring to a potential employer. If you own or work for a business, know what you’re promoting, the type of lead that would be useful for you, and how you can help others.
Keeping this short and concise keeps people interested and allows you to remember it sharply and professionally. Truly keep it short and sweet – the quicker you can get to the point, the more memorable and top of mind you can stay.
Following up is the most important – yet most difficult – part of networking. You’ve collected all of those cards, and now it’s the time to do something about them. Follow up within 24-48 hours, indicate how and where you met the contact, and then ask for or state what you’re hoping to gain from the relationship. You want to be sure that you’re also giving as much as you’re asking, since everyone is busy also needs to keep tabs on their own professional development. Offer to help the other person while making your request known. Appreciate their time and thank them for any help, insight, or time you might request.
With these networking tips, you’ll go into the professional arena with a great start and some advice for forming true relationships in the business world.
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