Three Tips for Networking
1. Networking is not an event. It’s a process of building for the long term. Networking isn’t about appearing, it’s about connecting. Even if you join lots of organizations, you may not have a network. It’s about what you DO and SAY when you are there. You must do more than pay your dues, show up, stick a name tag on your jacket, and eat lunch. You must make real connections. But when you do/are forced to attend events?
Tip: Ask a question! People love to talk about themselves. Say you see that someone is from the XYZ Company. Just ask “What kinds of challenges are you facing at the XYZ Company?” Or “What is your role at the XYZ Company?” You’re off and running!
2. Networking is not a card game. It isn’t accomplished by dealing out your business card to anyone who crosses your path. To make great connections, pour your energy into creating real relationships.
Tip: Before you exchange business cards, find a reason to do so – you found something in common, you started a conversation you want to finish, you have agreed to get in contact for a specific reason. That way, you can avoid the feeling of having to hand out cards.
3. Networking is not manipulative. It’s not about getting other people to help you. If you try to control what somebody else does for you, it’s hard to feel good about networking. There are two sides to networking. The biggest mistake people make about networking is to think it’s about getting. It’s not about getting; it’s about giving. Give generously. By giving, most people will try to return the favor and give back to you in some way. That’s human nature. So, if you feel like you’re giving more than you’re getting, you are networking the right way.
Tip: Listen for opportunities to help someone else. Are they dealing with a challenge that you have some experience with? Give them some ideas. Did they mention that they are dealing with choosing a college with their teen, and you have just gone through it? Offer them your lessons learned.
Above all, networking is about connecting. Be an effective networker. A great connector who teaches people who he is, creates long-term business relationships, and focuses on giving, not getting. You’ll be amazed at the results.
And I’m betting that is an approach even introverts can rock at!
Written by Julie Bauke
For another great blog by Julie, on the power of networking, read Introverts Can Network Effectively! Really!
Julie Bauke is the President of The Bauke Group, a Career Happiness Firm. She has been widely quoted in national publications, been featured on numerous radio shows and is the Careers and Jobs Expert on Cincinnati’s Fox19 TV, 700WLW Radio and is formerly the host of “Get Career Happy with Julie Bauke.” She is the author of “Stop Peeing On Your Shoes: Avoiding the 7 Mistakes that Screw Up your Job Search.”