In this article, you’ll learn:
So you have registered for your first networking event, but you are now thinking how you go around ‘networking’ with people. Picture this: you go into the networking event with the aim to gain a job opportunity or referral. At the end of the event you leave feeling disappointed. Now picture this: you go into the networking event with the goal to understand “how can I help others in the room?” rather than “what’s in it for me?” You walk out of the event making business connections and feeling inspired.
It is said that true networking happens when the network professional recognizes that everyone in the room has equal value to contribute. This is where people connect and build genuine relationships with those that share the same passion and are looking to help others.
Nowadays it is more important than ever to network, as it does not only help build connections and advance your career, but also helps you gain friendships and improve your life. Excellent networkers do not only have great business successes, but they are always the first to be considered for new opportunities too. In this article, we’ve gathered 10 tips on how to improve your networking skills.
Networking usually involves the exchange of ideas and information among a group of people with the same or similar interests. It generally takes place in a more informal setting and is used more often than not by professionals and job seekers to expand their circle of contacts, search for new job opportunities or gain more knowledge in different fields.
There are different types of networking in place, which can be broadly divided into online networking and in-person networking. With the effects of the global pandemic, online networking has become increasingly popular and used by various companies and organizations.
They both certainly have their pros and cons: online networking provides flexibility in attendance from anywhere and accessibility to participants, whereas in-person networking, however, allows for deeper personal connections and physical interactions.
In terms of online networking, some examples include virtual open house events, online information sessions and virtual skills workshops. On the other hand, in-person networking are, for instance, career fairs, professional conferences and roundtable discussions.
You might already have plenty of good networking skills up your sleeves, or you might be a novice who is just starting out. Either way, you can always pick up new knowledge or continue to develop your networking skills. Take a look below at some tips that will get you started with improving your networking skills.
As with any other tasks, it is always a good idea to plan ahead, to make sure you have enough time to prepare any materials needed and tackle any unexpectancy. In the case of networking, you can plan ahead by researching:
Being well-prepared for networking will not only leave a good impression on others, but also indicates that you are an organized individual who is a valuable asset.
It can be easy to get into the mindset of wanting to meet “valuable networks” only, such as meeting those only in your industry or those from the companies you want to work for, so that you can receive a job opportunity.
While there is nothing wrong with doing that, staying open-minded can often lead to more success. For instance, networking with someone from a completely different field may lead to a collaboration opportunity, or someone who has different a experience and background could provide you with a new perspective and likely new contacts.
Being open-minded also make others feel more comfortable when talking to you, leading to better interaction during the networking process and likely, opening up more doors to new opportunities.
This is one of the most overlooked elements people make when networking. The majority of people love to talk about themselves when they are networking, and many don’t tend to listen when the other person is talking; while they might be quiet and not speaking, they are mostly just waiting for their chance to speak again.
In fact, listening with genuine interest and giving others the space to express their opinions will often leave a better impression, where they will remember that you were a great listener and they had a pleasant conversation with you.
As technology continues to develop and much of our lives has been digitalized, being present on social media and utilizing it to expand your network is another key method to successful networking.
This is also particularly true under the pandemic, where in-person networking may be restricted. Reaching out to potential networks on LinkedIn or searching for networking events via Facebook, for example, are great ways to create networking connections through social media.
Posting updates and sharing achievements is another networking tip, as it increases your exposure to your network of professionals, attracting potential recruiters and useful contacts to make contact with you directly.
As mentioned earlier, one of the key elements that make you successful at networking is to think in the direction of “how can I help others.” Shifting to this perspective rather than the sole aim to make networking connections will help you go a long way when networking.
It may be that you have other useful contacts and job opportunities to offer, or that you respond to the other person with plenty of encouragement and compliments. Sometimes, all you need is to be authentic and genuine, share what you are passionate about and help others feel comfortable about themselves, to be exceptional at networking.
Another one of the most dismissed elements of networking is the act of following up. When you say that you will send over that contact detail, document or report to your newly formed connection, make sure you do so.
This will give the other person the impression that you are credible and not just another passerby who doesn’t keep their words. By doing so, you are also building a strong foundation for the relationship which increases your chance of being contacted when an opportunity comes up.
💡 Keep note of any particular points you have learnt about them during your networking process, so that you can keep it personalized with any future correspondence.
This is often one of the biggest networking mistakes people make when building networking connections. In networking, it is not about asking all your networking connections for a referral or interview; rather, it is about fostering relationships and creating rapport, so that you can ask for information that will assist your current role, or make them more willing to refer you when an opportunity comes up during your job search. Don’t end the conversation by talking only about what you want in your networking.
As with staying open-minded when building networking connections, you should not be dismissive of anyone when networking and making new contacts. It is hard to say which contacts are the most useful, as though one may not have a job opportunity available at the moment, it does not mean there will not be one coming up in the future.
Be ready to network with a wide range of people. Be respectiful and stay open-minded with different networking connections that you might make.
One of the best ways to expand your network is through the people that you already know. You will likely make contacts with those you are looking to meet by joining networking events and conversations with those from your existing network, as often people will refer one another.
By being introduced through someone within your network, you are more likely to receive a friendly welcome from the people you are hoping to make contacts with. This also applies to social media and professional networking sites. Asking for a referral online will help get your foot in the door much easier, while building up your virtual network as well as online presence.
Gratitude is a virtue. Always thank people for the help and support they have given you. The same applies when you are looking to build your network. It is about building authentic and caring relationships.
After they have provided you with information or a referral, thank them for effort, and share any knowledge that you think would be of use to them, or ask if you can return the favor in any way.
Most importantly, thank them even when they weren’t able to help you. Show them you appreciate their time and willingness to hold a conversation with you.
At the end of the day, networking is all about showing your genuine self, being proactive in making contacts and managing relationships with others. To be successful at networking, it is about knowing what to expect, understanding how to respond and keeping “how can I help others?” in mind. Having an expansive network can be a powerful tool in helping you achieve your career goal and opening up doors to new opportunities and ventures.
With CakeResume, you can easily create a resume online, free download your resume in PDF, and utilize ATS-compliant templates to create a resume. Create your resume online (free download) now and land your dream job!
--- Originally written by Wayne Chang ---