Networking is about listening and building relationships.
When it comes to networking, it’s far more important to ask others what they need before you ask for what you want. To build a relationship, you ask questions of the other person and by doing so you come across as authentic and genuine. Take the time to listen to answers and stories because you can only provide something of value by learning more about who they are and what they do. Remember to not expect anything in return. Instead, embrace the idea of getting to know someone.
When people think of networking they imagine meeting new people, but the truth is, you’re already surrounded by rich networking opportunities. Think of the people you come in contact with every day including coworkers, friends and family. Think beyond your work circle, too. You could be at a school meeting or the neighborhood park and strike up a conversation and make a connection.
Develop the habit of introducing people.
Connecting like-minded people is a powerful way to enhance your network and it’s actually very easy. Do you know two people who enjoy the same sports or read similar books? Are they history buffs, work in the same industry or have kids in the same sport? Simply introduce the two by sharing their common interest. They can decide if they want to pursue the relationship.
Here are some easy tips to remember:
N Nurture your current network. That includes co-workers and friends.
E Email follow-ups should be concise, and remember to add a bit of praise or thanks.
T Talk to people but respect their time. If you’d like to talk further, schedule it.
W Work as a volunteer. It’s a great way to give back and make new contacts.
O Open ended questions in networking conversations show you’re interested.
R Relationship building is key. Focus your networking efforts on helping others.
K Knowing a few people who can help you is better than handing out 500 cards.