Technology may change, we may change, but the essence of networking remains the same: it’s about establishing relationships.
Networking is a critical component of career and organizational success. Being well connected and having strong relationships both within and outside your organization is a cornerstone of success, in any industry and any field.
In a nutshell, networking means building a robust and diverse group of peers and colleagues who can support your personal and professional success and the success of your organization. It is important to take networking seriously, and remember that it isn’t about schmoozing, it’s about developing real relationships.
Here are 20 tips to help you network the right way:
- Sincerity is the most important aspect of successful networking. You have to keep it real.
- Cultivate a deep appreciation for the people you meet. This means showing genuine interest and being a good listener.
- Make a positive first impression. Use open and positive body language, good eye contact, a good handshake, and a positive attitude.
- Smile, smile, and smile! People are far more receptive to friendly faces than to stern ones, so smile.
- Wear your nametag (left side, please).
- Introduce yourself properly and clearly. Make sure you enunciate properly.
- Develop a great, short (20 second) elevator speech that tells people who you are and what you do. Elevator speeches aren’t just for elevators; they are perfect for networking events.
- Remember people’s names. If you forget, just ask again politely.
- Don’t scan the room for better opportunities.
- Put your focus on the other person. Ask engaging questions, be a good listener, and try to be a good conversationalist.
- Be memorable. Express yourself well, and be someone who others are glad to see.
- Don’t give the impression you are tying to use, sell, or get something out of people.
- Introduce people to other people. Smile and invite others to join your group. This is also a great way to learn and remember names.
- Develop relationships with people, not their titles. Don’t dismiss people you meet because their title isn’t right or because you don’t think they are worthwhile or high enough up the ladder.
- Attend as many professional and social events as you can, and introduce yourself to people you don’t know.
- Don’t drink too much. Drunk never makes a good impression.
- Find ways to add value and do favors for others.
- Say goodbye with warmth and graciousness.
- Follow-up with people you like and cultivate relationships. Send an e-mail, use social networking, meet for coffee, etc.
- Don’t expect instant friendships. Friendships take time to develop. Don’t overreach early on. Developing a network takes time!