Networking is one of the most powerful tools at your fingertips for growing your business and career. It is the process of establishing and maintaining mutually valuable connections and relationships with people inside and outside your industry. Your network includes people in your personal life (family, friends, neighbors, fellow car-pool parents) and people in your professional life (industry leaders, suppliers, clients, or even competitors).
Networking is the life-blood of your career and business development. It opens doors and opportunities you would have no luck finding on your own. Every person you meet has potentially 200 or more other people in their sphere of influence. All these connections can make a world of difference in your business and personal development!
Tips for Networking Like a Boss!
Networking is entirely made up of connecting with the right people — and having genuine, authentic relationships with them.
- Be Confident
Even if you have to fake it, appearing confident sets an excellent tone for any interaction. Practice responses to common questions until you’re comfortable. Maintain eye contact. Offer a firm handshake. Enunciate your words. You have a lot to bring to the table –show them who you are and what you have to offer!
- Be Proactive
While you can truly network anywhere, anytime, many chambers of commerce will host networking events. There’s also a variety of networking groups and business referral organizations out there. Check out your local chamber to see what’s available to you. There may be times when you must make the first point of contact. Whether that’s the initial, “Hey there, my name is…” or the LinkedIn request, being an effective networker means you must be proactive in your efforts.
- Ask Good Questions
When first meeting someone, ask them good questions to get the ball rolling. Questions in these categories are a good starting ground.
- Career path experience, background questions
- Educational experience questions
- Industry-related questions
- Position, day-to-day work questions
You can also start some small talk. For example, “I noticed you chose the Blackstone Merlot. I love their Sauvignon Blanc myself.” Small talk may be mostly surface, but it can reveal some common interests, which lead to a deeper connection.
When at a networking event, don’t be shy about moving around and integrating yourself in different discussions. Meeting new people is pretty much the whole point of networking events. You don’t want to be rude, but learn to move smoothly from one conversation to join another.
- Be Helpful
Connecting isn’t all about you. An effective networker gives back to fellow connections. When you make initial contact, don’t focus on asking for something from them right away. Instead, learn how you can best help them. This kind of giving does give back.
- Stay in Touch
Start by following up a few days later with a note thanking them for their time and offering your help. It seems small, but that personal touch can make all the difference in the world.
At Hamilton Connections, we are all about relationships. We want to help you connect the best talent with the perfect opportunities. So, whether you’re looking for a new team member or your next career step, give us a call today, and let’s get started.