It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
As unfair as it seems it is still a principle that holds true today. With some jobs receiving hundreds of applications how can you truly stand out from the rest of the crowd, a personal contact or recommendation can make all the difference. Here are our ten tips for networking:
- Preparation – Networking can be easy for some but nerve racking for others. Either way it’s best to have an introduction statement prepared when making a contact. Who are you? What do you do, what are you skills, what can you offer and what you are looking for. Be ready with a short statement and practise it. It will help the nerves go away.
- Get out there and do it – It’s not easy, it can be nerve racking, it can be time consuming, sometimes it seems like it goes nowhere, but you have to keep on going and get out there. Pick an event, once a week, once a month and go.
- Always be networking – A family member, a friend of a friend, a teammate, a member a club, people very close to home can be an excellent source for networking and may have a contact who can change your life, always try and keep that in mind.
- Make it fun and interesting – If you enjoy socializing networking can be a lot of fun, if not try and pick events that you have an interest in, career wise, hobbies and activities, volunteer for a cause you believe in, might as well enjoy yourself while you are doing it.
- Set some realistic targets – It’s not about meeting as many people as possible or collecting the maximum amount of business cards – whether it’s speak to someone new at work every week or make 5 good connections at an event, be realistic about what you can achieve. 1 good connect is better than 100 names you know nothing about.
- Listen – It’s not just about you, let others talk, find out about themselves, what do they need, where did they work before, who do they know, what are hey passionate about and what motivates them? Get to know someone well if you want to make a good connection.
- Be yourself, be natural – People like others who are honest, nice and friendly. Seems like common sense, but many people try to show off, exaggerate, and over sell themselves. It can be easy to put off a potential contact if you try too hard.
- Be an organizer – Struggle to find event to go to? Organize one yourself! That way you get to be a focal point of the event, or perhaps just volunteer to help out, even then you give people a reason to speak with you.
- Business cards/Social media – Many people use social media to make connections and it’s a great way to keep in touch, other don’t and still use the old business cards. Be prepared for both, have a profile set up you can add contacts too and have professional business card you can give out.
- Follow up and help others out – Made a good new contact at an event, send a message, it was nice to meet you. Ask a follow up question, can you out me in touch with so and so, or can I put you in touch with…… Even better if you can help another make a connection and then they will be more likely and open to helping you out in the future.