Networking Like a Pro: 10 Strategies for Young Leaders
Networking is everything in the business. From gaining job opportunities to bringing in business for your company, networking is the key to success. Creating links, building rapport, connecting dots is what networking is all about. Learning how to network effectively is one of the most powerful tools an individual can use to advance both their personal and professional life.
This includes meeting and interacting with people to build a relationship that will prove useful sometime in the future. The connections you build today may take years to pay off. You must therefore cultivate and nuture relationships. Be relentless in getting to know people who might be useful, take advantage of them in the best possible way.
Networking opens up new opportunities for you. Rothenberg in TheLadders.com said; Particularly in the case of job-hunting especially in this extremely competitive market, networking can be the difference between scoring a job and not. Ultimately, it’s all about the relationships: the ones you can build through networking are invaluable. Misner also affirmed, “when times are tough, a client will leave you, but a friend won’t.”
Be active in professional networks, both virtually and locally. This includes organizations and groups related to your work, your age or your education. Alumni organizations are great ways to connect with people who have a defined commonality. Job type or designation organizations are rallied around certain job professions and will be the most in tune when a new job or opportunity in your relevant field opens up.
Networking is not complete without social networking. Have your social networking sites in order, including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. How good is your LinkedIn profile filled out? Network with everyone in your industry that you can, and post frequently so that you stay on everyone’s minds. Have separate connections and acquaintances depending on your social media service. For example, you will have uniquely different friends and connections across Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. As a result be mindful of what you post and share across these sites.
Try not to be irritating
If someone will not return your call, email or appears to ignore you at networking events, they may not be that interested in you. Also they might be busy. This is why it is important to have a high level pitch as well as complete social profiles. Network with people who interact with your target and build a rapport there. As well, be interactive beyond email and calls. Use humor wisely. Ensure that your jokes are tasteful, inoffensive and actually funny, otherwise avoid telling them. You have an image to uphold and it can be ruined in a split second via a misguided attempt at humor.
Always look your best
Appearances count for a lot. Be smart. Shave and groom yourself. Always expect to see someone important. Make sure that there is something about you that will be remembered. Wearing a signature color, perfume or a piece of jewelry, for example, can make you stand out.
Don’t walk around with a bad attitude. You want people to remember you for the right reasons, not the wrong ones. Be friendly to everyone you meet. Along with helping with networking, you’ll find that it’ll improve your life for the better in other ways, too. Treat everyone well. Never discount someone as unimportant.
Ask for favours nicely
When asking for favours within your network, present it as nice as possible. People don’t usually refuse to grant favours, as long as the request is reasonable. Thus, when you do get ready to leverage someone and ask them for a favour keep it reasonable.
Return the favor
Show people you can be useful to them, and that you do not expect something for nothing. This will make them much more willing to help you. When possible, offer to help out with a service or provide feedback, or refer someone to them. Rothenberg added that “it’s easy to drop off when you’re not actively in need of something.” But you need to remember that networking is a perpetual give-and-take.
Respect other people’s time
One thing I value much is time. I don’t joke with it. My time and that of people I meet is precious to me. Thus, I’m always mindful of it. Stick to your time limit and people will respect you for it.
Show an interest in your new contact, without overdoing it. When you get people to talk about themselves and you listen intently and actively, you will be remembered as a fascinating conversationalist, even if you say very little. Be prompt on your follow up. This way people will be more inclined to help in the future. Your network will be useless if you don’t maintain it — that means constantly reaching out.
You can’t network if you’re stuck in the house or the office or in the kitchen. Attend industry events — conferences, seminars, etc. Attend community events. Get out there and meet people.
Networking Final note
Networking can benefit you in a number of ways. In the general sense, most people consider networking to keep their options open in case they decide to search for a job. However, networking can be useful for many other purposes, including advancement within your current job, for example, using your contacts or network to help with a work project. Networking is also great for recruiting potential employees or clients and potential customers.
You have to value networking. If you are job hunting, some of the best jobs are never posted on job boards but are filled from personal connections. This is precisely why you need to be one of those personal connections. For jobs that are looking to hire for a key role, many managers and executives will use their personal connections to first fill the role.
I am the Founder and President of Young Leaders Arena. Formerly I was the Chief Editor and program co-ordinator at Walktall. Author of the upcoming Book; Success Recipe: Start up Tool-kit for exceptional business growth. I have written numerous articles on both leadership, business start up, entrepreneurship. I have served as thought leader in many societies and organisations, including the Forum on Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. I obtained my post graduate from the prestigious University of Port Harcourt. I also have a Bachelors from the Delta State University, Abraka. Twitter & Instagram: @Charlessholokwu