Why network? In today’s business world networking has become a big deal. Meeting people who can provide mentorship or at least put you in touch with individuals that can steer you in the right direction is key to success in a job search or even when running your own business. For some, it’s very natural to meet new people and develop relationships but for others it can be challenging even terrifying at times. Networking is like a garden that requires supervision and maintenance to deliver you success. So how do you become a successful networker? There’s really no real science to it. It’s getting yourself out there and just doing it.
Join clubs, groups and meet people who have similar interests. Volunteer or attend a fundraiser that you are enthusiastic about. Having similar interests will make it easier for you to get involved and immerse yourself in the activity, which will allow you to be more available to the people around you. You need to be visible in order to meet people. Connection is the key to building a strong network. So don’t go home right after work, go out for dinner with colleagues, attend local events, conferences and networking events.
Building trust is another key variable to building a good network. You have to cultivate real, deep relationships with your contacts before you can ask them for a favour or expect them to help you find a job. Building confidence with your network takes an investment of time on your part. Remember, people who don’t really know you, won’t refer or promote you.
Having a diverse network is also a key factor in building a strong solid network. You need to look beyond your connections and get to know people who are not like you, who are not in your industry, or social group. This means expanding outside of your comfort zone to meet diverse people. By diversifying your network, you can meet the connectors who can put you in touch with individuals that can point you to the road that leads to success.
Be open to asking genuine and thought-provoking questions. Also, prepare yourself to do more of the listening by allowing the other person to do most of the talking. This will help you understand them better and give them a positive feeling about your exchange. This will not only help you gain more information about the person but it will also give you details about them that you can use for follow-up conversations at a later date. Be open to joining a conversation during a break and introducing yourself. Most people are okay with being interrupted and it gives them a chance to meet someone new. If the conversation seems too serious, you can politely excuse yourself and move on.
Consider how you can help others but drawing connections within your own network. You might have the opportunity to be the matchmaker yourself and introduce your contacts in their service or industry to these new networks. Make sure to follow through with both parties to find out what happened with their interaction. It can help you out in the future and also allow you work on your “connector” skills.
Now you are one step closer to becoming an expert networker.
By Andrea Theophilos, Social Media Marketing, Adecco Canada
Andrea Theophilos manages Adecco Canada’s social media platforms. She possesses over 18 years of marketing and event management experience and has worked in various industries that include travel, government, healthcare, finance and staffing.