If you’re in business, you know that people are more likely to do business with someone they know, like, and trust. In today’s interconnected world, networking is an indispensable skill that can help you get business and connect with those you can give your business to. Whether you’re looking to advance your career, venture into entrepreneurship, or simply seek personal growth, networking is the bridge that can get you there. Networking isn’t just about collecting business cards or online connections; it’s about building meaningful relationships that can open doors and create opportunities. Let’s explore the art of networking and discover tips to help you build connections that last and truly count.
What is Networking?
Networking, more so if you want to build lasting connections, is a strategic and intentional effort to form relationships that extend beyond initial encounters. It involves forging genuine and mutually beneficial connections and relationships with individuals, both personally and professionally, that are nurtured over time and offer support to grow in a specific area. Effective networking goes beyond surface-level interactions. Instead, it’s done to create meaningful and enduring rapport. It can be an asset in personal and career development, as strong, lasting connections can open doors, provide valuable insights, and foster a sense of belonging within various like-minded associates and communities.
The Purpose of Networking
Before delving into how to network, it’s crucial to understand its purpose and how you can get the most out of it. It’s important to remember that networking isn’t solely about self-promotion or immediate gains. It’s about creating a mutually beneficial relationship where both parties can offer something valuable. Whether you’re seeking advice, collaboration, mentorship, or career opportunities, having a clear purpose will guide your networking efforts.
The Keys to Good Networking
The keys to effective networking lie in authenticity, active listening and engaging, and a genuine desire to help others. Building trust is critical in business relationships. Additionally, it’s key to be sincere in your interactions and focus on forming meaningful connections rather than simply collecting contacts to add to your phonebook. People want to feel seen and heard and thus actively listen to others’ needs and interests and offer help or support where possible. Another important networking tip is to be consistent in your communication. You want to be the one who takes the initiative, makes the call, follows up, sets up the meeting, and does not expect the other to always initiate contact. Lastly, networking extends beyond immediate gains, so prioritise building long-term connections and relationships.
Top 10 Networking Tips to Build Better Connections
We now know the value of networking and the key things you can do in building these relationships. Below, we look at some top networking tips that can help you forge stronger and more enduring connections to navigate the world of networking with confidence and effectiveness.
Build an Attractive Resumé
Informal settings are the first point of contact between you and a potential network connection. At these events, you have the opportunity to talk about yourself and what you offer, as well as discuss business endeavours. Afterwards, you can present yourself on paper with your resumé. Utilise tools like a Resumé builder to craft a professional and attractive resumé that will stand out and take your career to new heights. Share it easily and confidently with your expanding network and existing contacts knowing it’s an eye-catching second chance to make a solid first impression.
Take it one step further and share your public profile and get noticed by recruiters and employers. This is a great way to showcase your skills and experience to potential employers around the world.
Authenticity is the cornerstone of effective networking. People are more likely to connect with genuine individuals rather than those who put on an act. It’s also easy to tell when people aren’t being genuine, so be yourself and let your true personality shine through. This will help you build trust, a key component in building those meaningful connections.
Build a Diverse Network
We’re all guilty of sticking to who and what we know in many situations. However, a diverse network in business provides fresh perspectives and opportunities that could otherwise be overlooked. Don’t limit your networking efforts to people within your industry or profession. Expand your circle and reach out to individuals from various backgrounds, cultures, industries, and professional platforms. The broader your network, the more you can learn and grow. You also never know where that winning business opportunity will come from.
Be a Good Listener
Active listening is a key element to building strong connections. Echoing the words of Maya Angelou, people will forget what you did, but they won’t forget how you made them feel. And feeling heard is a desire we all have personally and professionally. Networking isn’t just about talking; it’s about listening. When speaking with others, ask open-ended questions and genuinely listen to their responses. Show interest in their experiences and opinions. Being a good listener not only helps you understand others better but also makes you a more memorable and valuable networker.
Successful networking is a two-way street. It’s a healthy give-and-take where you offer something to your connection and gain something from the relationship as well. Whether it’s sharing your expertise, making introductions, or providing support, offering value strengthens your relationships and makes people more willing to help you in return.
Attend Networking Events
You don’t have to be at every industry and networking event on the calendar but attending networking events, both online and offline, are great ways to meet new people and enlarge your network community. Be strategic in choosing which events you will attend, find and prioritise those related to your field or interests, and try to attend them regularly.
Leverage Social Media
Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram can be powerful tools for networking – when used well. Create a compelling online presence that showcases your expertise and interests. Main professionalism in all you do online. Engage with others by sharing relevant content, commenting on their posts, sharing interesting articles, reports, and thought pieces, and connecting with them.
Cultivate Strong Follow-Up Skills
Meeting new people and building a connection is often the easy part and the first step to building strong networking relationships. To ensure that your connections grow and flourish, practice strong follow-up skills. Send a personalised thank-you message after meeting someone new, call and email and periodically check in with your network to maintain relationships. Don’t leave it to the next chance encounter at an industry event but be intentional.
Building meaningful connections takes time. Don’t be discouraged by initial setbacks or rejections. Be patient and persistent in your networking efforts. Keep nurturing the relationships you do have, and over time, you’ll see the fruits of your labour.
Get a Mentor
Mentors and advisors can provide invaluable guidance and support in your personal and professional growth. Look for individuals who have achieved what you aspire to accomplish and approach them with a sincere request for mentorship or advice. Know what you want from the mentor-mentee relationship by asking targeted questions, doing the work, having goals, and continually learning.
Mastering the art of networking is a lifelong journey that requires patience, persistence, dedication, and authenticity. Building connections that count involves understanding the purpose of networking, being authentic, offering value, and cultivating a diverse network. Remember that networking is not just about what you can gain but also about what you can contribute. Step out of your comfort zone and meet new people, grab opportunities, and create meaningful relationships that will benefit you personally and professionally.