Networking has changed a lot over the decades. With the integration of multiple social media platforms, there has been a lot more opportunities created. However, with those opportunities, comes the question of how to achieve the right balance of online and personal connections? Networking is an essential skill needed for growth within any industry. After all, "It's not what you know, but who you know.” Here are a few tips on how to turn strangers into helpful professional contacts. Happy Networking!
1. Network with Everyone- Don’t feel like you should be confined to only networking with professionals within your industry. Grow your contact base and connect with people from outside your industry. You never know what the future holds.
2. Set Goals- When at a networking event, one helpful practice is to set goals. For example, set a goal to talk to five people. It will get you out of your comfort zone and you’ll feel great when it’s accomplished. However, make sure these conversations are meaningful, don’t just chat for 5 minutes and call it a day. Take the time to listen to them, make a real connection.
3. Follow-Up- This is most important rule of networking. Don’t let a possible opportunity slip away by not following-up with a phone call or e-mail. This also applies on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. When you send someone a request, send them a thank you Inmail or message. Keep the conversation going. It’s a good way to add a personal touch and create a lasting impression.
4. Utilize Social Media - LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter have all been great additions to the networking tool kit. Make sure your profile is up to date and it shows you are worth connecting with. Keep in touch with industry leaders and engage with their profiles. Friend and follow other professionals within your industry and share relevant industry content. Having an online presence is an unspoken requirement these days.
5. Attend Events- Networking events may seem like a thing of the past, but they remain the tried and true way to build your contact base. These can range from book clubs to professional events. The more you attend a recurring event, the more you get out of it. These help put you out there and make important personal connections.