Networking is a slow and gradual process. It takes time to understand and incorporate good networking habits into your daily routine. Undertaking to learn how to create strong and long-lasting relationships with others requires an open mind, perseverance, and the courage to go outside of your comfort zone.
Following are some tips to keep in mind:
Look to Build Quality Relationships
Quality primes over quantity. A person who is willing to go the extra mile to help you is worth more than 10 or 20 people who are not willing to go out of their way. Looking to build good relationships with people will also prevent you from falling into the pitfall of being “superficial.”
People can sense when another person is not genuine. If you approach someone else in good faith and ask for help while at the same time trying to create a positive relationship, you will have more chances than if you just ask for something without putting in the effort of knowing the other person. A genuine person is always refreshing.
Connect the Right Way
Keeping in touch can be hard, especially with our busy schedules. Yet, taking the time to make a call, or send a card or an e-mail, can mean a lot. Be careful, however, not to send out e-mails or cards in “bulk.” The personal touch will be greatly appreciated.
Don’t Wait Until You Have to
Don’t wait until you need to network to start networking. As mentioned above, it takes time to build relationships.
Careful About Filters
Don’t forget that a network extends beyond your immediate contacts. Each of your contacts has their own network. You never know who they know, so don’t screen out people too fast. Some people might be able to help you even if they are not working in your profession.
People will not feel compelled to help you if you never helped them. It’s about that little voice inside that tells you: “he helped me, so…” But good networking is more than that and is not about keeping records. It’s first and foremost about “helping.” People normally only feel compelled to help people they like.
Try to be positive. That will make you more approachable.
Plan Ahead When Attending Meetings
Part of networking is attending conventions, meetings, gatherings, etc. Going to those events without planning ahead will lead you nowhere. Ask yourself these few basic questions:
- What do I want to learn?
- Who do I want to meet?
- What is my objective?
Once you know what you are looking for, decide on a plan of action:
- How can I approach this person?
- What questions should I ask?
Leverage Social Media
Be proactive. You cannot expect people to come to you. Go out of your comfort zone and make the first move, research events you should attend, volunteer, etc.
Follow-up on the contacts you made. If you met someone interesting during a convention, give him or her a call or send him or her an e-mail.
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