Any successful entrepreneur or business owner will tell you that coming up with a great idea is only a small portion of what makes a person go far in life. By far one of the most valuable assets is expanding your network and making great impressions with people around you.
In fact, studies have found that 80% of jobs aren’t even advertised, which emphasizes the importance of meeting people who might be working in your related field already. On top of that, it will diversify your resources and help you grow as a professional.
Looking to amplify your networking prowess and improve your communication with customers or other entrepreneurs? Here are some of our best tips and advice.
Why Do I Need To Network?
Networking can be a lot easier said than done. Especially if you’re a shy, reserved individual, making a great first impression can feel like a daunting task. But it’s one of the most important factors in growing and sustaining your business.
For one, networking might expose you to opportunities you may not have been able to find on your own. For example, if you want to work at Google, you might have a connection from high school who works there now that can put in a good word to their boss. Or, maybe your friend from high school has a friend who can do the same thing. Networks are an expansive resource that it never hurts to grow.
Additionally, networking can allow you to gain a closer relationship to the people you’ve already established a connection with. Being professional in your correspondence will not only increase rapport, or trust, between yourself and others, but it can make you a valuable resource to those around you. And when you do a favor for someone, they might just owe it back to you.
Best Networking Tips
If you don’t even know where to start when it comes to making a great first impression, don’t worry. Here are some tips and tricks.
1. BE A GOOD LISTENER
Even if you don’t love the aspect of talking to new people, you can still make a meaningful connection by just being a great listener and practicing social etiquette. The act of reflective listening involves maintaining eye contact and giving a person your full attention, all while responding in a way that proves you’re absorbing information.
For example, after someone tells you that they’d love to be a film director, you can follow up with open ended questions like “So what avenues in film and television are you looking to pursue?” Not only does this show that you’ve listened to them, but it also can give you cues as to ways that you might be able to connect them to an appropriate person in your network.
2. UTILIZE YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE
Networking doesn’t just happen in person. Building a following on social media platforms like Linkedin, Twitter, or Instagram can help you reach out to people that you’d never be able to speak to due to location differences or time differences.
Additionally, as remote communication becomes just as popular as face-to-face meetings, take advantage of zoom and other video calling services to connect with anyone that you can.
3. BE PREPARED TO MARKET YOURSELF
You never know who you’ll bump into at your next social gathering or company party. And if you happen to stumble on a great opportunity, you should be prepared to give your “elevator pitch” on the spot.
Your pitch is a way to market yourself in just under 30 seconds. This should include your strengths, goals, and what you can bring to the table.
4. DON’T ASK FOR A JOB
Asking for a job is one thing that should not be done when it comes to networking. Directly asking someone for employment upon introduction immediately feels unprofessional, and it’s the wrong way to go about it.
When networking, it’s understood that you’re trying to get something out of it. Instead, ask people for information that will assist you in your job search.
5. SAY THANK YOU
Simple manners and etiquette can go an extremely long way. After speaking with someone who offers to connect you with another person, it’s important to establish a genuine relationship through common polite phrases like “thank you” or “nice to meet you.”
Use Your Network
You can’t go through life without a little bit of help. And you’ll rarely find yourself in a circumstance where one of your connections doesn’t want to offer assistance. Usually it’s taken as a compliment, as it means that you value their assistance.
Your network is there for a reason, so use it! Just make sure that when you reach out to someone for a favor, you return it at some point in the future.
Emails can easily get lost, and calls are easily missed. Mistakes happen, so it’s essential to follow up with individuals if they don’t get back to you after some time.
While it’s normal to feel like you’re being pushy, it actually takes a great amount of initiative to follow up with someone you’re interested in connecting with. It shows that you have a drive and passion, and the person on the other end will likely respond well.
Likewise, if you’re the business owner, you don’t want to miss any emails or calls from someone who might just be the next Keith Ferrazzi. Try improving your communication with apps and other tools to filter out unwanted information while pushing through the relevant ones.
Networking is one of the most important aspects of building your business and progressing your personal career endeavors. When networking, it’s important to be an active listener, utilize your online presence, and use proper etiquette when speaking.
By following such simple steps, you’ll be on the right track towards the job of your dreams in no time.
Why Networking is Important | American Association of Medical Dosimetrists
The Importance of Networking | Champlain College Online