Professional networking is an important skill that offers many benefits. It enables you to stay in touch with your peers and other professionals, and is a great way to keep up-to-date with the latest tools and techniques in your profession. Those with expansive networks are able to leverage long term personal relationships when they need or want to make a job move. They may well find that they hear of job opportunities first, and get calls from prospective employers ahead of the competition. Whether you are a novice or an expert in your industry, we have compiled 5 powerful habits for professional networking that can always be your invaluable tool to climb up the career ladder.
Networking should be a fun professional activity. Unfortunately, some people use it as an opportunity to immediately sell their services, or to ask for a favour. The best type of networking happens when neither party has any immediate gain. That way, a professional relationship can build over time, and perhaps at some point in the future business might be conducted. It is also better to think about what you can give to your network, rather than what you can get from it. If you act genuinely and invest in your network, you’ll find you won’t even need to ask your network for help – they will offer it when they find out you need it.
Those who struggle with shyness are in danger of missing out on the benefits of professional networking. For many people, it is not easy to reach out to others. Thankfully, resources like LinkedIn and Facebook give you the opportunity to make connections without ever having to pick up the phone or go to a networking event. These tools are a must for everyone, but particularly useful for shy, or even not very outgoing individuals. If you are shy, it is also helpful to look for situations in which you feel the most comfortable and use those opportunities to form relationships. For example, participate in an activity you enjoy and you will meet others who also enjoy it. Doing volunteer work will also give you a chance to meet people with whom you have something in common.
Use Social Media
Platforms like LinkedIn, have changed the networking landscape. Many people rely on their LinkedIn network for referrals, introductions, reviews and references, all of which come in handy when you are looking for a job. Anyone you deal with professionally should be added to your LinkedIn network. Even if your contact with these people was short, add them, because you are trying to grow your network. LinkedIn is also a great space to learn about someone’s professional and educational background to find similarities and create great conversation for a first meeting. Whether it’s for a job interview, a sales call or an alumni event, having some information about the person you will be talking to is a great advantage. If you can show that you have taken the time to make an effort, you will immediately make a good impression and will be more likely to be remembered.
Keep in touch.
Networking is not a one-and-done deal, where you meet a contact and speak with them only when you need something. If you really want to connect, you should nurture a sustainable, give-and-take relationship. While conversations must be natural, the effort to re-engage must be conscious, as we are all too busy to do it effortlessly. Although social media sites are a good way to begin relationships, these relationships require in-person meetings to build depth. Trust is hard to develop without the personal interaction involved in face-to-face conversation.
Chances are, some of your networking contacts ultimately turned out to become great friends. However, remember to maintain the appropriate level of professionalism. Always be polite and use words like “please” and “thank you”. We hope you enjoyed reading 5 powerful habits for professional networking.