Networking is a must; there’s no opting out. People change jobs, move to different cities and navigate gig jobs or self-employment. To succeed in this complex and ever-shifting business environment, people rely more than ever before on their network of professional connections for information, business leads and job opportunities. Luckily, it’s also easier than ever to meet people.
Be Curious About People
Networking doesn’t have to be stressful. If you think about it, you’re networking every time you meet somebody and tell them about your work. Networking events can make anyone feel awkward. Keep these tips in mind when the opportunity arises to introduce yourself to others:
- Look people in the eye.
- Ask questions about the other person to break the ice, such as “What do you do for a living?” and “How did you get started?”
- Listen to the answer to make a meaningful connection.
- Remember, others might be feeling as awkward as you feel.
Face to FaceSimon & Schuster
Movie producer Brian Grazer credits much of his success to the “curiosity conversations” he’s in the habit of having with experts from all walks of life. He approaches each of them with an open mind. His genuine curiosity helps him forge connections that turn into long-term friendships and collaborations.
Networking Is About Making New Friends
Instead of looking for people who can help you, reach out to people who can teach you or, better yet, people to whom you may have something to offer in return.
- Decide who you want to reach out to.
- Are you trying to find more customers? Are you trying to connect with peers in your industry?
- Figure out where the people you want to meet hang out, whether online or at local events.
- Keep in touch; don’t just reach out when you need something.
New Business NetworkingQUE Publishing
The more people you know in your field, or, more correctly, who know you, the better you’ll be able to keep up with your industry’s news and emerging opportunities. Try the “working out loud” method to clarify your goals and determine what you can contribute to your networks.
Working Out LoudPage Two Publishers
Word of mouth is often the best way to find out about great jobs opening up. Experts say the strongest networks are a mix of people both inside and outside your business sphere; sometimes, “weak” connections are the most productive. Networking is a two-way street, so help others in your network as you may need their help another time. The best relationships are based on genuine mutual interest and trust.
Strategies for Introverts
If you are shy with strangers, you can memorize a short, sweet statement about what you do to get the ball rolling in unfamiliar circumstances when you’re on the spot. Introverts may lack the social ease of extroverts, but their natural curiosity and perceptiveness will keep the conversation going.
Digital tools make networking easier, especially for introverts. LinkedIn is a robust professional networking platform and a great place to look for job opportunities. Other social networks give you a chance to showcase your projects, your interests and your sense of humor. Keep your online profiles authentic yet professional.
Taking the Work Out of NetworkingGallery Books
Once you’ve got the basics down, practice your small talk. You never know what a short, polite conversation may lead to.
Learn more about the ins and outs of networking: