'Give today - Get tomorrow' - Networking is a two way street. The key to building a strong and credible network is remembering the phrase ‘It’s not what you can do for me; it’s what I can do for you!’
When you decide to extend your network it is essential that you extend a hand to others before asking for help. You must give advice when asked, avoid desperation, gain others' respect and trust. People would come to view you in a different light and they will feel that they have gained something from their relationship with you.
Practice a Brief Pitch or Introduction – There is nothing worse than listening to people rambling on about themselves from the minute they meet. Sum up what you NEED to say in 2-3 sentences to convey who you are and what you are willing to do.
Get involved in the conversation by adding constructive points. Be part of the conversation and do not just take over or become a wallflower.
Also don't forget to smile - Body Language is important!!
Get to know your network – This point is directly proportional to the one above. Networking is all about helping others. However, you must do your research before embarking on your new networking journey. Gather some information about the people you will be talking to, show them that you have thorough knowledge of their careers, products and services.
Potential clients will appreciate you more if you are aware of what they do and the nature of their businesses.
Follow up – Networking is not a score card nor a numbers game. There is no point in having hundreds of business cards or connections if their actual holders cannot remember you. A useful network only exists when you have invested the time in getting to know the person. The best way to do this is by following up.
Set a reminder to send a tweet to key people on Twitter, or a quick email on LinkedIn, every week or so. Stay fresh in your networking techniques. Only then will a valuable relationship begin to form.
Target your fellow network(ers) – Don’t randomly appear at conferences, events, etc. in the hopes of perhaps meeting a useful contact. It is important that you network with people who will ultimately be of use to you.
Don’t leave anything to chance. Take the bull by the horns and target your contacts. Plan who you would like to meet and consider why he/she is important.
Should you focus on a particular niche? Would a mixed network be more useful while moving forward? Set your strategy and follow it.
Step out of the box – Ensure that you are networking in a range of directions even when it is tempting to stick to what you know. Careers and industries often overlap as do roles and levels of seniority. Broaden your network by branching out of the box.
Having contacts outside the usual areas will allow you to be more valuable in your own industry. Being viewed as an expert is a bigger challenge when it comes from people outside your industry.
It is always good to know someone in another industry where you can ask work-related questions if you need to.
Be Nice, Patient and Genuine – Networking isn’t all about you. Of course you are there to make new contacts and meet potential clients but don’t expect favors if you act snobbish!
If you have have helped someone out, don’t always expect payback. View networking as an opportunity to explore new horizons. No one is obligated to ‘return favors’ to you, so don’t expect it. Instead, see each new contact for what they really are – a new opportunity! Don't glamorize them too much and also don't underestimate their power. The opportunity comes when you are least expecting it!
Be Genuine, Be Patient and Be Nice!
Value everyone you meet – Be careful not to dismiss the contacts that are not on your list. You never know when you might need someone's services. Even the most random person may actually be of use to you one day.
Store people in your back pocket for the rainy day!
Make use of Networking Tools to be more Effective – There are different ways of networking, organizing contacts and creating connections. The business card is not dead (yet) but there are also many apps for your mobile phone and your email that will help you be a more effective and successful networker.
At ProfileTree you can use the networking tool, Rapportive which offers public information on everyone who emails you. When you open an email, you are presented with the sender's profile, pictures and latest tweets.
Rapportive is great for building a personal relationship with someone. Don't forget to check out other traditional communication tools such as AIM, Skype, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
If you are considering becoming self-employed, networking will become an essential tool in helping you find new contacts. Check out our article - Self-employment the way to the future- for more information on self-employment.
Find new contacts and make new connections right here at ProfileTree.com. Check out other people's skills profiles and connect with them today!
Do you know other networking tools or tips? What do you find useful when you are networking? Let us know in the comment section below!