Everybody knows the value of networking.
Most people have friends and family to help them with their problems and to offer their support and ideas. These people can also introduce you to others, such as potential employers, clients, and customers. So in effect, they help not just in your personal life but also for your professional success.
Of course, lots of people realize the value of networking, which is why they’re so darn determined to make friends and go networking. The problem is that many of them are doing it the wrong way, and they’re just wasting their time and efforts. In fact, they may end up alienating the very people they should be making friends with.
In every industry, knowing how to go networking is a crucial skill you need in your professional arsenal.
Here are some tips on how to get it right:
1. Start with a Good First Impression
Meeting people isn’t really as easy some would have you believe. It can actually be difficult and stressful, though it doesn’t have to be. The key to making good connections with other people professionally is to not focus too much on what kind of outcome you want. When you meet someone new in a professional setting (which includes parties with most people in your field), you have to get off on the right foot. You have to listen and get to know the people you meet. In fact, it helps if you can make it obvious that you enjoy their company.
Start by focusing on yourself. You have to know who you are, and you should have an accurate idea of how people you’ve just met see you. So imagine yourself as a whole page advertisement in a magazine. What kind of person do you seem to be, and what attributes and attitudes do you project?
You can also pay attention to how your friends describe you to other people. You can then find out what they like about you, and you can emphasize those traits when you meet other people. In addition, you may find out what they merely tolerate (or even plainly just don’t like) about you and you can work on improving yourself.
2. Talk to New People Like You Want to Be Friends with Them
If you’re old enough to enter the workplace, it’s likely that you may have developed a few interpersonal skills along the way. Actually, the very fact that you want to network successfully means that you’re not the loner type who wants to go solo throughout their professional career.
So don’t be too mercenary about networking. Forget about making connections for your work. Instead, focus on simply making friends. You can do this naturally so that others don’t consider you a fake plastic person that no one would be friends with.
You can start by doing what you’ve always done in school. You make friends with people who share the same interests. That’s not all that hard to do nowadays. In fact, the social situation you’re in along with the new person you’ve met is already something you two have in common. If it’s a fundraiser, then you’re both interested in the same ideals. If you two meet at a birthday party, you can talk about how you two know the birthday celebrant.
With people in the same field, it’s very likely that many people share the same interests you have. You can talk about your college majors, or perhaps the kind of cars or music you like. Finding common ground is another way to connect on a more authentic level. You can do that simply by listening when the other person speaks.
Of course, you should also talk as well. But don’t boast or try to puff up yourself. Just make sure that what you say offers some sort of value to your listeners. It doesn’t always mean that you have to give them helpful advice on a problem they currently have. Sometimes it’s just about introducing them to something new. If they’re interested in gaming apps, talk about the gaming apps you’ve found addictive. If they’re music fans, mention a few new bands that they may not have heard about.
So look back at how you made friends back in high school or college. The basic principles of networking remain the same. Fostering a friendship also doesn’t happen right off the bat. It takes a bit of time to develop mutual trust and liking. There’s also a certain level of quid pro quo when it comes to networking, but then “owing one” to a friend is common enough.
3. Try to Act like You’re the Host
When you’re a guest at a social function that includes many people in your field, networking seems like an obvious thing to do. However, some people make the mistake of acting like guests—they want to enjoy themselves first and foremost. While that’s your prerogative, it’s not the most effective way to network.
Instead, try to act like you’re the host. This means you have a different mindset, and you’re more concerned about how other people are enjoying themselves. If you find some wallpaper types, approach them and draw them into a conversation by asking gentle questions. Introduce one person to another.
By doing this, you can make it more natural to meet people. That’s because you don’t have an obvious ulterior motive to chat up the other guests. When you genuinely want other people to enjoy themselves, you become more memorable.
4. You Must Connect Authentically
This is General Order No. 1, or the Prime Directive. This means you need to go beyond job titles and possible usefulness. Instead, you need to focus on getting to know the actual people behind the job title. It also means opening up to what interests you as well.
Most people can instinctively detect the ones who are simply trying to find friends they can use. That’s why some folks hate networking because it’s so artificial and fake. But if you can be authentic and show the real you while you get to know the real people you meet, then you can actually have a network of people who may end up supporting you willingly and enthusiastically. That’s because they’ve become your friends!
Try these ideas yourself and let us know your results. Good luck!
Also, read this – 5 Tips to Effectively Network at a Business Conference