Six great ways to take the work out of networking
Networking is the art of turning strangers into trusted contacts for mutual support with progressing your business or professional career path. While it can initially seem daunting, by harnessing the right resources and tactics, you can significantly reduce the effort involved with connecting with new people. Here are six tips to help take the ‘work’ out of networking:
1. Change your focus
Keep your focus firmly on the other person in your first meetings or calls. If you’re all about getting what you want from the interaction, you may just miss out on building a great rapport with the individual you’re communicating with. Staying focused on your goals is a vital part of business and career development. But when it comes to networking, broadening your perspective to take a genuine interest in your new contacts can go a long way.
2. Give before you take
Linked to the point above, don’t start the get-together by thinking only about what you want from it. Look for opportunities to help your new connection, whether it is with some advice about how to achieve a specific goal - or suggesting someone who may be able to help with a particular issue. You may even want to introduce them to another network you belong to, bringing your different communities together. That’s real networking in action!
You never know where sharing your expertise or responding directly to people could lead. After all, it was one well-researched comment about Tesla’s auto-pilot technology which got one Reddit user an interview at Tesla with a personal invitation from Elon Musk himself!
3. Find common ground
One worry many people have when it comes to networking is about not being able to find anything in common with the other person. This is understandable, but instead of thinking about the possible differences between you and your potential connections, look out for shared interests and build from there. Small talk serves an important social purpose. Chat about how their day is going and whether they are busy, then move onto the bigger themes. This could involve asking them about their goals, the biggest successes they have had so far, or what they want to achieve this year. Listen out for clues to experiences, ambitions and challenges that you and your new acquaintance may share.
4. Always follow up
Networking isn’t a one-step process. While it is possible to meet someone just once and see it turn instantly into a great career opportunity or working relationship, this isn’t the norm. Making the link is only the beginning. It’s all about the follow-up and how you build on that initial bond. This could be as simple as connecting on LinkedIn or setting a date for the next call. Another effective way to build on the first meet-up is by passing on a useful piece of information or the details of a valuable contact. It’s these kinds of small steps which can turn an initial meeting into a productive working relationship! Another pointer - if you’ve promised any follow-up or further information in that initial meeting, be sure to honour what you’ve said. This will confirm that you are a contact to be trusted and valued.
5. Be selective
As a quick search on Google demonstrates, the concept of networking covers a broad spectrum. So it’s important to be selective about how and where you invest your time and energy. Instead of joining any and every type of event or platform, carefully consider each specific networking opportunity and assess whether it’s right for you. Is it truly relevant to your goals? Is it suited to your career and industry? Is it a one-off opportunity or does it offer more long-term ways to grow your network? Look for opportunities which are geared towards helping you meet the right type of people: those with the most potential to help you achieve your ambitions.
6. Have fun
Here’s a secret: you are allowed to enjoy networking – and doing so makes it more effective! After all, who are you going to bond with better: someone you had a rapport with or someone you didn’t? While it’s important to be focused and committed to any online or in-person meetings you set up, remember that you’re both humans. So, once you’ve established the expectations for your meeting, aim to have fun. Because the more you relax and enjoy the process of networking, the easier it gets.
Superlinked’s smart networking app automatically matches you with people with similar interests and goals to you, so building new connections is a breeze! All you need to do is confirm your weekly participation on Monday and arrange to meet your new potential employer, business partner or friend.