Networking is a slow and gradual process. It takes time to understand and incorporate good networking habits into our daily routine. As such, undertaking to learn how to create strong and long-lasting relationships with others requires an open mind, perseverance, and oftentimes, the courage to go outside our comfort zone.
Following are some networking tips:
Look to Build Quality Relationships
Quality primes over quantity. A person who is willing to go the extra length to help you is worth more than 10 or 20 people who are not willing to go out of their way. Looking to build good relationships with people will also prevent you from falling into the pitfall of being "superficial."
People can sense when another person is genuine or not. If you approach someone else in good faith and ask for help while at the same time trying to create a positive relationship, you will have more chances than if you just ask for something without putting in the effort of knowing the other person. A genuine person is always refreshing.
Connect the Right Way
Keeping in touch can be hard, especially with our busy schedules. Yet, taking time out to give a call or to send out a card or an email can mean a lot. Be careful, however, not to send out emails or cards in "bulk." The personal touch will be greatly appreciated.
Don't Wait Until You Have to
Don't wait until you need to network to start networking. As mentioned earlier, it takes time to build a good network of people who are willing to help you.
Careful About Filters
Don't forget that a network extends beyond your immediate contacts. Each of your contacts have their own network. You never know who they know, so don't screen out people too fast. Some people might be able to help you even if they are not working in your profession.
People will not feel compelled to help you if you never helped them. It's about that little voice inside that tells you: "he helped me, so..." But good networking is more than that and is not about keeping records. It's first and foremost about "helping." Yet, people normally only like to help people they like.
Try to be positive. That will make you more welcoming. Other people won't approach you if you always look angry or unfriendly.
Plan Ahead When Attending Meetings
Part of networking is attending conventions, meetings, gatherings, etc. Going into those events without planning ahead will lead you nowhere. Ask yourself these few basic questions:
- What do I want to learn?
- Who do I want to meet?
Once you know what you are looking for, decide on an action plan:
- How can I approach this person?
- What questions should I ask?
Get out of your passive state and be proactive. You cannot always expect people to come to you. Go out of your comfort zone and make the first move, research events you should attend, volunteer, etc.
Follow-up with the contacts you made. If you met someone interesting during a convention, give them a call or send them an email.