It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
You’ve heard of that saying, right?
It’s well known in the business world that networking can play a vital role to move ahead in your career. 85% of people agree that it helps to build much more meaningful business relationships.
But do you know how to network? This post will help put you on the right path.
Keep reading to learn the most effective ways to network and advance your career.
1. Don’t Just Talk About Yourself
Everybody likes to talk about themselves. But don’t make the mistake of doing it too much. When you are networking with others, take the time to listen and learn about them.
Listening may not be enough though. You should also show that you were listening. Ask your conversation partners to expand on the things they speak about and focus on the things that interest them.
Approach each connection to make a new friend, not advance your agenda.
2. Find Out How to Help People
It’s hard to connect with people when you come at them with an agenda. If you go to up someone and are only thinking about yourself and what that person can do for you, you’re going to come off the wrong way.
Instead, try to find out how you can help people. Do so without expecting anything else in return. When you demonstrate value, you are showing people that they can depend on you and are worth knowing.
If you’ve spent the time listening to somebody you should have an idea about the things they like and how you might be of use to them.
If you have a relationship based on giving instead of taking, someone is much more likely to help you in the future.
3. Don’t Limit Yourself Based on Position
The networking game is all about knowing people. A person being low on the totem pole now doesn’t mean they will stay there forever.
Take the time to be friendly with people in every position. It’s also much easier to connect with those in lower positions.
CEO’s and upper management have more demands on their time. Sometimes someone lower in the organization will need to introduce you for you to have a chance.
4. Diversify the Events You Attend
Attending events in your industry is a great way to meet the big players. But it isn’t the only way to meet new people.
Most communities have business meetups where you can get together with people in other industries. This change is a great way to make connections that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Even if you don’t share an industry, you may find ways to work together with people that you wouldn’t expect. You never know what else is out there until you look. When you try things that others don’t do, you have a better chance of stumbling on opportunities other people miss.
Don’t dismiss speaking at new events either. When you position yourself as an authority in an industry, you are increasing your value and opening yourself to new opportunities.
5. Resist the Urge to Sale
People don’t like it when you sell to them. Sure, you are talking to people who may be able to help you or are in a position to buy your products, but everyone may not be at an event to purchase a product.
If what you’re selling does come up, go ahead and give a short spiel.
Afterwards, get in touch with them in the days following the event. You can do all your selling during your follow up.
6. Don’t Lose Touch
Meeting people is great. But if you don’t stay in touch and let your connections fade, then you might be wasting your time networking.
You don’t have to reach out to all your contacts daily or weekly. Once or twice a year is more than enough to keep your connections alive.
7. Take Up Sports
Let’s face it – people love sports. They are one of the best ways to form a relationship with somebody.
Sports can be a problem if you don’t watch anything, so you need to get a little creative here. Are there any unique sports you can take part in that make for an enjoyable get-together?
Here are a few casual activities that you can use for networking:
Golf is one of those sports that is tried and true for business networking. If you need golf equipment and accessories, you can buy from online stores like Power Golf.
Scheduling a sports meeting instead of a regular office meeting can set you apart from other people. Be creative and show your friends and business partners a fun time.
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Connect Other People
It might seem counter-intuitive if you are trying to help your career, but getting others in touch with people that can help them can help increase your career standing.
You can’t solve every problem. But if you see someone with a question and know who can help, put them in touch.
It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved. You’ve made a contact that you can reach out to in the future, and someone else can get their problem solved.
9. Do Your Homework
Would you go to a job interview or sales meeting without doing any homework? You can apply the same principle to networking.
If you are going to an event, take the time to get acquainted with the host and any event speakers. The more you know about the people who will be attending, the easier it will be for you to strike up a conversation and ask interesting questions.
You can also research the social media profiles of the attendees. They can tell you about their work and the things that they are involved with.
At the same time, make sure you update your profile so others can have some background on you.
10. Quality Over Quantity
We mentioned it before. You want to make real connections when networking.
If someone sees you pre-occupied and looking for the next conversation, they won’t take you seriously. You are better off making one or two solid connections instead of 10 surface level ones.
Remember, you want connections to last a long time.
How to Network: Final Thoughts
Now that you have a starting point for learning how to network don’t waste any more time. You can read all you want, but until you get out there and practice you won’t get any better or make any contacts.
Are you looking for more business advice and training? Head over to our training section for information on handling a business.