Networking like a pro
Networking like a pro is the key to progress and success in any profession. Every industry requires you to spend some time networking. It is probably the most common advice. But the problem with this advice is no one tells you what really helps to advance your career.
If done right, networking can open unexplored avenues for your career and take your game to the next level. A study by Forbes has listed saving of time and money as the top benefits of online networking.
But I am not here to tell you to hand out your business card to every person you meet or attend more conferences and seminars. I am here to give you 5 simple habits that you can incorporate in your day-to-day work and start networking like a pro.
5 networking habits to incorporate
These habits apply to everyone, whatsoever your line of work may be. Even if you are still in university, the incorporation of these habits of networking will take you a long way in your career.
- Be genuine:
Networking like a pro does not require any mind-blowing skills or technicalities. It is all about personal relations and such relations are based on honesty and integrity.
No good contact can be made superficially. Good connections with people ask for sincere and genuine relationships. You will want to steer away from ad-lib speech and focus on forming more than a trivial business connection, like trying to find corresponding pursuits out of work. The foundation of any bond has to be strong for it to be a rewarding connection.
- Listen more and talk less:
This one is a no-brainer. We have been learning about the importance of listening since preschool. Any relationship, personal or professional, can be enhanced by incorporating this smallest of networking habits.
Showing attentiveness and interest in what the other person has to say is an excellent way to assure your reliability and commitment to the relationship. Listening conscientiously includes appropriate responses at the right time. A nod or a gentle smile shows your appreciation of the conversation.
- Focus on your body language:
It is intriguing how much your body language can be a game-changer in your quest to network like a pro. The way you stand, sit, eat, speak, walk everything is noticed by people you interact with. Even your expressions play a big part in someone’s interest in conversing with you.
Try not to look unwelcoming with a poker face. Avoid the basic mistakes like crossing your arms while talking to someone. Make eye contact, focus on your hand gestures, and stand tall when you talk to someone. A confident body language sends positive vibes in your favor.
- Give before you ask for help:
No one ever forgets a helping hand. An expression of generosity can instill confidence in you and make you credible in someone’s eyes. Offer to help with your expertise in their projects and if you’re not acquainted with it, offer a contact who is an expert in that area of work.
Choose “What can I do for you?” over “What is in it for me?” Helping out someone is likely to lead to a meaningful connection and is truly what can be called one of the best networking habits. The returns of the time you invest to help someone out can have a significant impact on your career growth.
- Take notes and maintain the relationships:
Taking notes is an easy way to retain important information about the people you interact with. The more you remember about a person and their work, the more it will help you to make conversations in the future.
Following up and reciprocating is an important aspect of building contacts. It is easy to meet a lot of people but not maintaining those relationships is as good as not trying to make them in the first place.
Slipping a business card is not enough. Building a network like a pro asks for investing time to catch up with the people you meet. These days, online social platforms like LinkedIn have made this part effortless and uncomplicated.
Networking like a pro is no formidable task. All it requires is a little work every day. The benefits of this simple task outweigh the efforts by a massive margin. Networking is a part of building your personal brand which is crucial to make headway in your career.
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Frequently asked questions
1. How do you build and maintain a professional network?
Tips for building and maintaining a professional network:
- Take part in industry events
- Create a strong online presence
- Engage with content
- Offer a helping hand
- Maintain a steady communication
2. What are the rules of networking?
Following rules of networking must be followed to make deep and long-lasting contacts.
- Strong first impressions
- Get referrals
- Contact the referrals you get
- Follow up after every meeting
- Know why you want to keep in touch
- Learn something new about them and remember
3. How to prepare for a networking event?
- Have your goals of networking clear. Are you looking to expand your network? Get a job? Or pitch an idea?
- Prepare some conversation starters
- Study and be updated with your field and recent developments
- Ask the people questions about them instead of talking about yourself
- Ask for what you want but be sure to mention what you give in return
- Exit the conversation gracefully and thank them
4. What should you not do in networking?
Following are some common mistakes of networking that should be avoided.
- Asking for a job
- Not keeping a record of the people you meet
- Not following up on the referrals
- Feeling awkward and keeping quiet
- Asking too personal questions
- Wasting their time with irrelevant information
5. What is an online network?
- In today's digital world, online networking has become the most common way to network with people from your industry. It entails establishing professional relationships through online channels such as LinkedIn and Facebook.
6. What are the benefits of online networking?
- Apart from the usual saving time and money, online networks also allow you to break the ice before you meet in person. Moreover, an awkward encounter can easily be avoided in online networking and the tone of the conversation can be set.