The word “networking” may bring up feelings of anxiety or confusion if you’ve been exposed to people who don’t really understand networking. The truth is that networking is essential to professional success. The sooner you learn to create and sustain meaningful business relationships, the sooner you’ll find yourself on the receiving end of amazing opportunities and connections.
Here are 4 tips to make you a better networker:
1. Networking happens between people.
Even when business is the main agenda, remember that you’re dealing with a person. That person has feelings, hopes, fears, and aspirations the same way you do. Approach every interaction with the other person’s goals in mind, and you’ll find it easier to connect with new people. The best way to make a great impression is to relax and put your best foot forward.
2. Value is networking lubricant.
It’s easier to find common ground and break the ice when you’re focused on providing value to the other party. Before a call or meeting, do your homework on the person and their company. Brainstorm ways you can add value to that person’s career. Think about expertise you have, people you know, and upcoming opportunities.
3. The fortune is the follow up.
It’s one thing to connect with awesome people and form connections. It’s another to build solid relationships that serve you for years. Forming relationships requires ongoing communication and exchanges. Be sure to follow up with new people shortly after you meet them and periodically check in to say hello and ask how you can be helpful.
4. Keep your digital identity current.
Take time once per quarter to check all of your social media profiles and be sure they’re current. This is especially important for LinkedIn where hiring managers frequently run searches to find talent.
Use these tips to become a networking master. Remember that it’s not just who you know; it’s who knows you.