So you want to learn how to network like a pro? It’s not hard; you can make it happen by following these 5 networking tips!
Networking Tip #1: Ask Yourself “Why” You Want To Network
The first professional networking tip is to ask yourself why you want (or need) to network. Networking is more than just being social, it requires proactive action! Think about the reasons you want to network and have a plan. For example, if you want to employ your networking skills to launch a new career path then you should be aiming to meet contacts connected, directly or indirectly, to your dream company/occupation.
Before you get discouraged, remember ‘six degrees of separation’. Just because you don’t know someone in the company, you might have a friend who has a friend that knows someone working for the company! Think BIG!
Benefits of Professional Networking:
• Get a new job
• Find new career opportunities
• Launch a new business venture
• Create relationships (both business and friendship)
• Get involved with key people in your industry
“A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship.” – John D. Rockefeller.
The second professional networking tip is all about maintaining your contacts. While making new connections is good, it’s always best to maintain the ones you have first. Look for celebratory moments in your networks lives, like a birthday, anniversary, new job, promotion or professional development milestone to congratulate them on and keep in touch with!
How To Maintain Your Network – In 5 Easy Steps!
1. Stay on the radar
If you won’t be attending work events and conferences with those in your network, it is important to stay on their radar through other means. Becoming irreverent to your contacts is a sure fire way to minimise your network.
2. Jump on email:
Email is one of the easier ways to maintain contact – great for if you have changed jobs or have exciting news to share.
3. Make it personable:
No one wants to be thought of as a number. If you can’t tailor messages to each individual contact, categorise your network into groups and personalize messages from there.
4. Share information:
Networking is all about sharing. Pass on information freely (whether it is of general interest or career related) and remember, don’t ask for a favour in return, this can diminish sincerity.
The best way to grow your network is to expand your network’s network! Invite your contacts to social events.
Networking Tip #3: Learn From Others
“If you want to go somewhere, it is best to find someone who has already been there.” -Robert Kiyosaki.
“No one lives long enough to learn everything they need to learn starting from scratch. To be successful, we absolutely, positively have to find people who have already paid the price to learn the things that we need to learn to achieve our goals.” -Brian Tracy.
Thirdly, for successful networking you need to learn from others. Everyone you meet will know more than you, so treat networking as a great way to learn from others. As a rule of thumb, “Make Fewer Statements; Ask More Questions.” People enjoy talking about themselves, to be a great conversationalist you need to acknowledge this. The best way to keep conversation following is to show your interest by asking open ended questions.
Some great professional networking questions might include:
• “What make you decide to study/major in [name of degree/major]?”
• “How did you get started in [business industry]?”
• “What advice would you give if I wanted to be successful in [business industry]?”
• “What do you love about [job]?”
• “What do you love about the [career] profession?”
• “What separates your business from the competition?”
• “What’s the one thing you would do if you knew that you could not fail?”
• “What’s the one thing you would do if you knew you would succeed?”
• “What’s the strangest thing you have experienced in business?”
• “What changes have you need take place in the industry since you began?”
• “What changes do you see for the future?”
“A quote is better understood than a novel” – Anon.
The fourth professional networking tip is to know your elevator pitch. An elevator pitch (or speech) is defined as a 10 – 15 second speech designed for if you met a potentially important contact in an elevator and only have a short amount of time to introduce yourself. This pitch needs to be extremely concise and executed in less than 20 seconds. Your speech should always end with a question tailored specifically to the person or their interests.
Elevator Pitch 101 – 5 Steps To Success!
1. State Your Name
“My name is Joe Smith”
2. Who You Work For
“I work for Training Incorporated.” TOP PROFESSIONAL NETWORKING TIP: Don’t wait for recognition of the company!
3. State The Location You Work (Or Cover)
“I am based in Brisbane and train nationally.”
4. Your Specialty
Think about what you specialise in and how it differs you from competitors. “I am a specialist in TAE and OHS training.” OR “I train a variety of aged care qualifications up to the Certificate III in Aged Care.”
5. End With A Question
“What do you do?” OR “What is your interest at “Conference Name/Event?”
Stay tuned for Inspire’s next blog which looks at perfecting your elevator speech in detail!
Networking Tip #5: Get Social and Follow up
“Social networking helps reach people easier and quicker.” -Bill Cosby
Our final professional networking tip is to be social and follow up with contacts. This is one of the biggest things you can do to improve your networking. And, with the with the rise of social media like Twitter and LinkedIn this step is now all too easy!
After meeting a contact, it is important to follow up within 24-48 hours after. This will make you stand out from the large majority of networkers.
When following up it is important to be genuine and steer clear of sales pitches. Ensure the contact is not about making a sale but creating a relationship.
TOP PROFESSIONAL NETWORKING TIP: After a business or networking event, sort the business cards out in a priority order of contact. Have one pile for those you want to contact within 24-28 hours, one pile for follow ups within the next week and a third pile for contacts you will be in touch with in three weeks.
This method will help lessen the load of follow up messages and ensure you get back to everyone you intend on forming a relationship with.
Have you got any networking tips and tricks you’d like to add? If that’s a YES, we’d love to hear from you – leave a comment below! And, don’t forget to check back next week for Inspire’s post dedicated to crafting your elevator pitch!
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