Anyone who has spent time networking will tell you – it isn’t always easy. It takes energy, dedication, and a bit of bravery. Many people avoid networking at all costs, but with a bit of practice and the right approach it can bring amazing value into your social life and career. If you thrive on making connections and love learning about people – what they do and more importantly, why they do it – you’ll connect with awesome people. Becoming a networking pro takes time, but if you follow these essential principles, you’ll be well on your way towards networking effectively and authentically:
#1 Be interested in Other People – This will prevent you from thinking of networking as just a means to an end and will help you build real relationships as opposed to superficial, transactional ones.
#2 Actively Listen – Don’t just wait for your turn to talk – you will miss a lot about what others have to say.
#3 Find Common Ground – What are their interests? Are they Broncos fans? Do they have kids? Are they interested in finance, marketing, etc.? Always look for common ground where you can have a good conversation that’s exciting for both people.
#4 – Go Deep, Not Wide – Aiming to have quality conversations with just a few people is often a better approach than trying to talk to every single person in the room.
#5 Follow Up – A lot of people put in the effort to get over their inhibitions and make real connections but never build on their initial success. You should always follow up after you’ve met somebody, and if you can, try to make it special and mention something that connects you to that person.
#6 – Suggest a Next Step – Setting up your next chance to connect is key when it comes to establishing a relationship. There are many ways to do this, such as inviting your new friend to an event that might interest them, meeting for coffee, or just agreeing to stay connected via email or LinkedIn.
#7 – Make Thoughtful Introductions – Be protective of the people in your network and strive to make great connections for them. You won’t be perfect 100% of the time, but make sure everyone in your network knows that your are always intending to make mutually beneficial introductions for them.
Written by Cynthia Boman Thompson
Edited by Ethan Jacot