Networking Tips That Will Boost Your Career
In the business world, networking is critical. It’s the number one way to build relationships, share information, and it helps people build and maintain successful careers. It’s all about creating mutually beneficial connections with colleagues, other business people, professional groups, clients, and customers. Many people believe that the primary reason for networking is sales, this is only one of its functions. In fact, there are several benefits of networking, and several ways to do it effectively.
Benefits of Networking
Networking should become a habit that you incorporate in every aspect of your daily work and career activities. Here are some of the benefits of networking:
- Enhances Interpersonal Skills – The ability to effectively communicate is, by far, the most important soft skill a person can possess. When you participate in networking activities, it gives you the opportunity to practice speaking to others in a professional manner. More importantly, it’s a great way to practice your listening skills.
- Builds Confidence– When you learn to feel comfortable interacting with others, you have an easier time getting your point across without hesitation. A self-confident person understands there are other perspectives besides their own and are willing to listen and understand what others have to say. This applies to personal and professional situations.
- Builds Good Relationships– When you regularly communicate with your contacts it helps to form strong, trusting bonds. It’s about sharing, helping one another achieve goals, and encouraging growth. These relationships often form the basis of successful business endeavors that benefit not only the parties involved but others as well.
- Introduces Fresh Ideas– Perhaps one of the most important benefits of networking is that it helps you gain new perspectives and introduces you to new ideas and solutions to problems. Sharing your own challenges, experiences, goals, and opportunities also build your own reputation as a creative, innovative, and open-minded thinker.
- Reveals Opportunities –In business, and life in general, it’s not always about what you know, but who you know. Your professional network can introduce you to career opportunities you may not have otherwise known about. It can also help you find solutions to your personal struggles and issues by making recommendations and offering useful advice.
- Business Leads– Networking is essential for business professionals to learn about and capitalize on new leads. Your network connections will be willing to connect you with like-minded individuals, let you know about new opportunities, and make helpful recommendations. Be mindful of how you follow-up on these leads as your actions will affect your relationships.
Best Ways to Network
Whether you’re a seasoned professional or you’re just starting your career, finding networking opportunities is imperative. The truth is, there are endless ways to network and you should never pass up the chance to make those all-important connections. Some of the best ways to network are:
- Become a Social Butterfly– Talk to everyone you meet. Ask them questions about themselves, their business, or career.
- Use Social Media – Participate in industry-specific social media groups as well as personal interest groups.
- Engage With Other Professionals– Join professional associations and societies. Attend and participate in the meetings.
- Local Organizations– Attend local Chamber of Commerce events and talk to other business professionals.
- Get Out and Socialize– Participate in community and cultural events in your area.
- Give to Others – Become a volunteer and talk to everyone you meet.
- Office Relationships– Make it a point to get to know your co-workers, colleagues, and other business associates.
Six Tips For More Effective Networking
- Be Your Authentic Self– Remember that networking is all about building relationships that are based on mutual trust. People will be reluctant to connect with you if they feel you have something to hide. Let your true personality show through and you’ll garner more respect.
- Step Outside Your Comfort Zone– It can be difficult to speak to strangers, especially those who are more experienced, or successful than you are. However, with time, and practice you’ll find that you feel much more comfortable with networking in any situation.
- Arrive Early and Stay Late– No matter what event or meeting you’re attending, make sure you get there before anyone else. It shows others that you care about their time and that you’re willing to go the extra mile. They’ll think of you next time they need a hand with something.
- Listen Carefully, then Ask Questions – When you’re making a connection, the best way to learn about the other party is by listening to what they have to say. Only after you’ve fully heard them out should you ask relevant questions to clarify points and gain more understanding.
- Be Helpful First– There is much to be gained from networking, however, if you’re not willing to help others first you aren’t doing it right. You don’t have to give away the farm, but share some valuable information, offer a referral, or something else that will help them in some way.
- Always Follow-Up– After a networking event or anytime you meet someone new send them a note letting them know you appreciate the opportunity. If you’ve promised them you’ll do something, make sure that you do it and stay in touch. You never know when a new opportunity will arise, and you want to be ready for it.
Never underestimate the power of networking for building strong, trusting, professional relationships. It’s by far the most important thing that you can do to grow your business and advance your career. It is arguably more important than anything else you’ll ever do. Not only will it reveal new opportunities to you, but it will also give you the opportunity to learn and grow as a professional. It can also have a major impact on your ability to communicate effectively which will improve your relationships both professionally and personally. Take every opportunity you can to build your network, by following the tips mentioned here and you’re guaranteed to see results in no time.