In business and life, most doors are opened through networking. You know you should get to know more people, but your plate’s already full and it’s hard to fit in another event. Often, we neglect networking until we can’t anymore, because meeting new clients, connecting with a dream mentor, scoring a job or promotion all hinge on relationships.
Below we’ll cover three simple habits to make your networking more meaningful and fruitful — both for you and the people you connect with. No new revelations here: just common-sense reminders you might be neglecting in the midst of busyness.
Solve problems; build relationships; bond over shared interests
Many people treat networking as a transactional experience: they have a specific need in mind and chase after people who can meet that need. You may find, however, that a transactional approach may be slow or ineffective in producing good results. It’s rarely a good use of your time.
Relationship-building, on the other hand — the kind that seeks to give more than take — produces far better return. But how do you do that, especially when in-person interactions can be so brief?
You’ve heard this before: Focusing on what the other person needs and exploring how you might help fill that need can earn you big points in likeability and trust. Beyond that, read local blogs or industry news, and when something catches your eye — either because it’s a fresh take on a common problem, or because it mentions someone you know, or offers insight relevant to them — share away. Also reach out to the author. Invite them to connect online or in person and see where the conversation takes you.
In either case, bonding over subject matter or shared interests gives you a reason to keep in touch over months or years.
Seek knowledge; not just contacts
It’s hard to break out of a rhythm at work, which means we often don’t get exposed to new ideas. It’s one reason participation in professional organizations is so valuable. You won’t get far in your field without deep knowledge of emerging marketplace trends, challenges and opportunities. One conversation with a peer can illuminate blind spots and hidden opportunities that would’ve eluded you otherwise.
It’s why we offer a variety of events each month, highlighting various themes, locations and interests to connect you to your peers and opportunities for growth.
Trust the process: rewards may not be immediately clear
David J.P. Fisher, author of Networking in the 21st Century, says networking frustrates some people because results aren’t always visible right away. Rather, Fishers likens networking to an “amorphous cloud,” meaning the more energy you put in, the more opportunities you’ll get out of it.
We all know someone (even you, perhaps?) who met someone unexpectedly, struck a great conversation that snowballed into a dream opportunity many months down the road. You won’t know which doors networking will open for you, but without putting in the effort, you’ll never find out.
Want to close this quarter with new connections and strengthen existing ones? Make an investment in your “opportunities bank” by signing up for an upcoming event. (If you’re a young pro, may we recommend a Young Professionals pop-up gathering?) We look forward to seeing you soon.
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