Recent conversations with a wide number of senior managers about career development, new opportunities, developing a profile, climbing the ladder or changing career pathways… showed that a number of elements such as commitment and sharp focus are needed to make ‘dreams a reality’, as quite simply, things don’t happen on their own.
Of all the items featuring on the; ‘Overlooked on my HR Career List;’ almost 100 percent cited ‘networking’ as an area that needed improvement. Typically the comment went like this: “The one thing I know I need to improve on is networking, but it’s just not my thing.”
Everyone that you will ever meet, knows something that you don’t
The word ‘networking’ seems to make many people feel queasy (Forbes even developed a list of the top 10 reasons why people don’t network – read it here). We get it. Networking can push you outside your comfort zone! But as we all professionally and logically know, networking is an essential way to build relationships within a career field with people who have the potential to:
Help you get your next job
Help advise or guide you
Connect you with others
In thinking beyond that initial connection, the secret is to be building relationships that will last. So, here’s our 6 quick tips on how to build long-term connections:
1. Make it personal and be quick. When you meet new contacts at networking events, connect quickly. Communicate with them in a personalised way. Take the time to send out that follow-up message quickly and when people in your network reach out to you, don’t leave their email sitting in your inbox waiting for an answer; get on to it asap.
2. Know what you can offer your contacts. Networking isn’t just about meeting people who can help you down the road; it’s about creating opportunities for you to help others as a way to develop relationships. Ask yourself:
What do you bring to the table?
How can your efforts help the people that you’re connecting with?
3. Use social media. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook all provide great ways to connect with people in your network. Commenting on social media posts or having conversations online is an excellent way to help keep a relationship that started with a business card at an event, bubbling along. It also decreases the pressure because it’s in a less formal environment.
4. Show genuine interest in people. Get to know what makes your connections tick. What are they genuinely interested in? When you know what makes someone genuinely passionate and are able to send information to connect with them, you’ll stand out from the crowd in their mind.
5. Organise your efforts. Put systems in place so you don’t allow an important contact to fall through the cracks.
6. Know who you need to connect with. Think about the connections you’re most likely to need, both now and in the future. Relationships are important, but they also take time—so it’s a good idea to be connecting with the right types of individuals; people who have the potential to genuinely impact your business prospects for the better.
Attending events, sitting through conferences, talking to strangers, commenting on social posts – yes, making those important networking connections takes time and effort, but it’s well worth it!
Eventually, those connections can be of sufficient value to you as you advance your career, and you for them. By taking the time to build relationships you’ll discover that you’re in a better position to reach your overall goals.
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