It’s cliché to talk about the importance of networking in advancing your career. Why all the emphasis? Because success really is as much about who you know, and those contacts will, by extension, expand what you know. In a tough economy, you need to build relationships with people that can give you that “in.” Later in your career, you’ll need to start bringing in work to justify a move up into management. Networking is the avenue to meeting your goals, but most people wouldn’t call it easy street.
Here are some suggestions to keep in mind while networking. Many of the ideas listed were originally printed on James Clear’s blog, Passive Panda http://passivepanda.com/networking-tips and brought to my attention in the November/December 2011 volume of The ATA Chronicle, 24 Networking Tips that Actually Work.
Be genuine. Many people consider networking to be insincere and self-aggrandizing. Conversely, it should be a friendly, helpful, two-way interaction. Start with non-business conversation and seek to build a relationship before making the sale.
Help others. Try to understand other people’s needs first. Where can you contribute to theisuccess? They will be very appreciative of your contribution and will want to return the favor, but do not expect immediate returns.
Be focused. There’s no need to shake the hand of everyone in the room. You are better served to make a strong impression with a few targeted people. The people you impress may even act on your behalf and share your story or suggest other key people for you to meet. Take the advice of the people in the room to seek out the contacts that are most relevant to your cause.
Expand your horizons. Don’t limit your networking efforts to your immediate industry. Consider that your clients may come from diverse backgrounds. You may also be well served by professionals in other fields that can support your business.
Introduce people. Connect other like-minded people in your network, but bear in mind that sometimes it may be appropriate to ask permission first. Maybe you can establish a reputation as someone who can provide connections across industries.
Nurture your current network. Don’t forget about the connections that you already made the effort to make. You likely think of many of these people as colleagues and friends. Take time to keep in touch. Involve this network in your latest ventures.
Please share your own networking tips by posting a comment below.