networking

Networking can be a daunting activity to approach in the workplace. Making small talk with strangers and putting yourself out there in the hopes of meeting like-minded people can sometimes seem like a first date. You get nervous, stumble over your words and can sometimes embarrass yourself before you have a chance to impress. But like all things, practice makes perfect, and with enough practice, networking is a skill that any person in almost any business will benefit from.

How do I even begin to start networking?

Networking is a great idea, but where do you start? Before you even approach somebody with the aim of networking, sort a few things out first. Think how do you differ from everyone else in your field? What is it that makes you unique? Make sure you have business cards with all the important information on them, and carry some with you at all times. Have a good understanding of who you are and what you do, that way when a networking opportunity arises, you’ve got all the information you need. Having a neat creative project on the go is something worth mentioning, because despite the cliche, the word ‘initiative’ is a favourite in and around the office. People will respect you doing something unique outside of the workplace.

networking

Me, me, me!

This is the last thing you want a potential contact to be thinking when you’re ‘networking’ with them. Be patient, ask questions, and actually listen to what they’re saying. Often, this is how you’ll learn interesting things about the other person that you might not otherwise have found out. Asking your new networking friend questions about their own career and business pursuits will give you extra brownie points as someone who shows initiative but also can communicate effectively.

networkingBut isn’t networking old-fashioned?

The simple answer? No. New waves of social media have given networking a total rewrite, where you can network with people in other ways besides face-to-face interaction. By keeping an active and professional social media presence, you invite contacts without even speaking to them. Posting relevant links, referencing significant people and commenting on recent trends and news items will keep your networking approach fresh and accessible.

Follow up

One of the key aspects of networking is following up. There’s no point getting to know a person at a conference or in an elevator if you have no intention of staying in touch with the person. By sending an email or phoning a contact, you’re showing that you’re still keen to catch up and continue the networking friendship. Just like with friends, networking contacts require constant work to keep the relationship fresh and worthwhile. The other person will know if you’re just using them to further your career.

About The Author