Networking can be extremely helpful for a multitude of career paths. Whether you’re a successful entrepreneur or just starting off at your first entry-level job, the connections that you make can help you in the future. If you’re interested in networking more effectively, the tips below can help you.
Look For Common History
When you’re thinking of people that you might want to reach out to connect with, you should start by looking back at your history and finding people who you have met in the past. Even if you weren’t extremely close with them then, it will give you something to spark up a conversation with. For example, if you went to one of the 87% of private schools with less than 300 students, you could reach out to one of your previous classmates to connect with. Even if someone was not in the school at the same time as you, you still have the common connection of a shared school experience. Use what you have in common to build a connection with them and bring them into your network.
Use Social Media
When you think about networking through social media, your first thought will probably be about networking using LinkedIn. And it’s true that LinkedIn is a great way to connect with people that you want to network with, but it’s not the only social media platform that you can use for networking. If there’s someone that you want to connect with, follow them on social media and engage with their posts or stories to open up a dialogue. Once you have a sense of familiarity, you can start an actual conversation with them.
Strengthen Relationships You Already Have
If there is someone that you have an existing professional relationship with, but you haven’t spoken in some time, it’s a good idea to reach out and strengthen that connection. Whether it’s a coworker from an old job or a classmate from your college, having a good connection with a former contact can lead to further networking in the future. If you went to college, not only do you have 13% less of a chance of getting divorced, you also have the opportunity to reach out to your professors, who will often have contacts in your field that can be great networking opportunities. Many professors love hearing from old students, so sending an email or message to them can be a great way to strengthen a connection and get further chances to network.
Don’t Ask For a Job
When you’re networking, your goal may be to get a new job in a certain company or field, but you shouldn’t try to directly ask for a job. Forming a personal connection and getting your experience out there is a much better way to open up future opportunities than being blunt about asking for a job. If the position you wanted were already open enough that you could ask to be considered, you would have the opportunity to apply for it. Instead, go into networking opportunities with a thought process more along the lines of asking questions and learning more from more experienced people in your field.
Talk With the Best
If there’s someone in your field who has work that you’re impressed with, consider reaching out to them to discuss it. Depending on the field you’re in and who you want to speak with, this might be more difficult, but it’s always worth the try. For example, if you’re in the field of medical administration and a local urgent care is impressing you, there’s no reason not to reach out to the someone in the organization and ask them how they got a certain protocol in place or how they solved a certain issue. On average, 75% of urgent care patients say they’re satisfied with their care, but if this facility has a higher rate, there’s no reason not to reach out and ask for advice.
Ask Smart Questions
When you’re having a conversation with someone that you’re trying to form a professional connection with, it’s important to show that you’re actively listening to what they’re saying. A good way to do this is to ask questions that pertain to what they’re saying and are actually informed. Going into a possible networking opportunity without doing any research or without having genuine interest in the other person’s work can mean leaving a bad impression, which you obviously want to avoid.
Follow-Up With Purpose
After meeting someone in person, it’s a good idea to send them a message via email or a soial media account thanking them for their time. This opens up a direct line of communication and shows that you care about the connection. Make sure to keep in contact with them by reaching out a few times a year to keep the connection active and to ensure that the other person has become a part of your network. When you reach out to them, you can send them articles relevant to what you discussed when you met, respond to business-related social media posts, or otherwise reach out in a meaningful way.
Show Your Passion
One of the things that connects people who are in the same field is having a passion for whatever it is that they’re a part of. Therefore one of the best ways to make a good impression is to show how passionate you are about your profession or whatever project you’re currently working on. Even if someone forgets the details of your conversation, they’re likely to remember the emotion related to it. If you can make an emotional impact on the other person, it can make a big difference in the strength of your connection.
Networking can be difficult if you are just blindly searching for the opportunity to speak with people in your field. However, if you have a plan and have done a little bit of research ahead of time, you can seek out strong and meaningful connections that can really help your career.
What networking tips do you have? Let us know in the comments below!