One of the most common pieces of career advice from successful people is to network. But it doesn’t always come naturally. Follow our top tips to make the most of networking opportunities and build valuable connections one person at a time.
- PREPARE TO BREAK THE ICE. Find out who will be at an event and think about how you might approach them. Come up with a few standard questions as ice breakers.
- GIVE BEFORE YOU GET. Successful networkers go beyond thinking, “What’s in it for me?” to ask “How can I help?”
- LISTEN. The key to networking isn’t to make sure the other person knows everything about you, but rather to make sure that you know more about them.
- LINK IN. Networking today is much more than just the traditional event meet and greet.
- Explore online tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter to build your network. Be sure to keep your profile up to date and stay active.
- DEVELOP YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH. Who are you and what can you offer? An elevator pitch is your way of introducing yourself and concisely summing up your personal value proposition.
- ASK TO BE INTRODUCED. Is there someone you know that can introduce you to the person you’re hoping to connect to? A personal introduction makes it easier to start a conversation.
- SEEK COMMON GROUND. Love pugs? Sports mad? Is there something you and the other person have in common? Focusing on similarities helps build rapport and is a shortcut to developing a relationship with real roots.
- PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT. Practice your networking skills whenever you can. The lift, the office kitchen or a friend’s BBQ all offer a great chance to build your confidence.
- FOLLOW UP. Networking is only the start of the conversation. Send a quick email or connect on LinkedIn within 48 hours of attending an event.
- STAY CONNECTED. Maintaining your job network is just as important as building it.
Schedule time to connect with people in your network regularly and nurture relationships before they are actually required.
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