There are few skills more important for social and professional success than networking. It's the most effective way to connect, build your reputation, and get heard in a constantly changing industry. The only problem is that it takes a lot of time and practice. In this post, we'll cover five steps you can take right now to improve your networking skills—and see results in just one week!
When you're networking, be honest about who you are. Don't try to impress people with things you can't do or say, and don't try to be someone else. As much as we'd all like to think otherwise, there's no way around it: You have to be yourself.
Open Your Mind
However, that doesn't mean that you should never try something new—especially if it makes sense for your career goals and interests.
The key here is being open-minded enough to understand when a new opportunity is right for what you want in life but not so rigidly fixed on your philosophy that the idea of change closes off opportunities before they even present themselves.
The key to networking is consistency. You want to be as constant as possible in communicating with people so they know what to expect when they hear from you.
Keep In Touch With Your Network
Always keep in touch with people regularly. If someone gives you their contact information and asks you to stay in touch, do it! It's not that hard—send them an email or text every few weeks (or use whichever medium works best for your relationship). If it's been a while since the last time you saw them (a year or more), then maybe check in more often than every few weeks until things pick up again.
Give Purpose to your Interactions
Make sure each interaction has its purpose. Whether getting an introduction or making plans for coffee sometime soon, have one thing on your mind when contacting someone new; don't try to do everything at once! Your goal should always be evident, so there aren't any misunderstandings about what happened afterwards."
Establish a value exchange.
The first step to networking is establishing a value exchange. Exchange of value means that you are providing the other person with some benefit—information, expertise, support, etc.—in return for their help or connections. Asking someone to do something for you without offering anything in return is called "tit-for-tat" networking, which doesn't work very well.
Share Your Expertise
Share your expertise by giving advice or information about a subject that has been helpful in your career. For example, if you have recently worked on a marketing campaign for [brand], share this information with the person who could benefit from it most (i.e., an individual whose company sells similar products).
Offer New Connections
Offer to connect someone else with someone who might be able to help them out in some way (such as introducing them to their next employee candidate). You don't even need to know how they can be helpful—tell them what kind of position they're looking for and let them take care of finding someone themselves!
Invest in others.
The next step is to invest in others. Now, this might sound counterintuitive—after all, shouldn't you be focusing on yourself and your gains? But investing in other people is a great way to improve your networking skills.
Investing in others will bring you long-term benefits: if you spend time helping someone else grow their business or career, they're more likely to offer the same help for you in return. Plus, if the person you help does well for themselves (and let's face it—you want them to!), they may become one of your biggest advocates when someone asks who else they should connect with on LinkedIn or Twitter!
Track your progress
Creating a tracking system for networking will help you measure your effort so that you can set goals and see how well you're doing. Tracking systems range from simple spreadsheets or note apps to software like Trello or Asana.
For example, you can use tracking apps to monitor the number of meetings in a week or month or track which contacts are worth reaching out to again (and when).
Make a note of Key Opportunities.
You could also use them to keep notes on each contact that is important to you; perhaps there's something new about them that would make them more valuable than before, and now they need an update in your database!
Learning to be a good networker is essential for social and professional success.
Whether you're a business owner or just starting your career, networking is an important skill. It can help you build relationships and get more business, and it will help you in the long run to expand your network. The key to becoming a great networker is to focus on being authentic, consistent and invested in others. By following these five steps, you'll be able to build relationships that last!