Networking is when a group of people come together under a social canopy to provide benefits to one another, in any way possible.
Taking this concept to the professional pedestal, networking is an important tool for interacting and communicating with others in a bid to exchange information and develop contacts – both professionally and socially.
While some might be able to grow their revenue and experience base through networking, you could also reap benefits such as:
- Opportunities – If you find out that you are not making waves in your niche or career path, it might be because of the network you have built around yourself. Even as a college student, you would benefit greatly by having a few strong contacts in your network that can help you get off to a good start in the highly competitive world we live in.
- Advice – There are some things that you just cannot find on the internet. When you network with people who are versed and highly experienced in your field and career path, you get access to invaluable pieces of advice that will benefit you for years to come.
- Assistance – In the professional world, there is no way you could do everything yourself. Just imagine how much more effective you would be if you had experts in other disciplines that you could contact to help you solve major problems.
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Harnessing the Importance of Business Networking
Now that we have reviewed the importance of business networking, here are a few tips to help you do it the right way
1 Plan Ahead
The goal is not to walk into a room and ask for the business cards of everyone in attendance. Effective networking requires that you put in a decent amount of thought, much like you would any other important decision.
If you are going to an event, do some research on who will be in attendance. Then, come up with ways both of you (you and your potential network) could benefit from networking.
Depending on the size of the event, you may not be able to meet everyone, so make sure you focus on the people you want to connect with the most first and work your list from there.
2 Conversation Starters
For some of us, it is hard to walk up to a total stranger and start a conversation. To help ease the burden, look for something you both have in common.
Since you are at the same event, starting there wouldn’t be a bad idea.
You could simply lead with a line asking “what brought you to the event?” and let the conversation flow from there.
3 Express yourself
I think another way of saying this is to just ‘Be You.’ Do not let the status or presence of your possible contact put you off so much that you tiptoe around your career goals instead of hitting the nail on the head.
Don’t try to be someone you’re not and sugar-coat things. Chances are, you’ll set their BS meter on high alert. Come off as naturally as possible, as only then can you build a true relationship.
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If you’ve had a great conversation with someone and exchanged contacts, it is suggested that you follow up with them. If you don’t, there’s no point in asking for their contact in the first place.
Email follow-ups are normally the way to go. Don’t be too forward or pushy about it. A simple email that highlights your conversation and keeps the door open for future opportunities to connect is enough.
It is very important that you never close the chapter on networking as soon as you walk out of the event. Once started, you must make a conscious effort to continue