Networking can be invaluable for discovering new opportunities, whether you’re looking for a new job or need to get some help with projects you’re working on. Here’s how to network like a pro.
Expanding your circle through networking can be invaluable for your job, career and even your social life (you may make new social contacts, after all, and find that tennis partner you were looking for). But if you’re new to it or are on the shy side, networking can seem like torture. With a little practice, though, networking is a skill you can master, and it’s definitely one worth having. You never know what opportunities it can open up for you! Here are some tips to help make networking easy.
Have a business card
Even though people often connect through LinkedIn, other social networks or through BBM, it’s still easier to have a business card to hand to someone so they have your contact info. So invest in getting a set for yourself if you’re self-employed, and be sure to always have some with you, as you never know when a networking opportunity may present itself.
Practice your personal introduction
If you tend to be an introvert, it’ll help you if you rehearse a short intro about who you are and what you do. That way you can share this information with ease when meeting a new person, rather than fumble for the words, trying to remember what about your work you should highlight. This information is especially important to have ready if you know you’re going to be in a setting such as a convention, where you will have to introduce yourself again and again.
Make contact after making that connection
When you meet someone quickly at a convention, it’s easy to forget about that person, since you’re meeting so many people. Take the time to send an email after meeting so you are still fresh in their minds, and if possible, suggest meeting up for a drink or lunch to further develop that relationship.
Get involved in volunteer organizations
Joining a professional membership group or association creates the setting for networking, making it a bit easier. It’s a fantastic way to meet people within your industry, and when you volunteer to help plan events or be in a committee, that’s a form of networking, but the pressure is taken off somewhat since you’re there with a specific purpose.