When it comes to success in business, networking is one of the most important things you can do. And while some may consider it as simple as going up to someone with a good looking card and shaking hands, there are much deeper ways to use social networks to connect with people and boost your career.
Networking isn’t just about showing off your business cards either – creating opportunities for connections and conversations that lead to new business and relationships is integral parts of successful networking.
Business professionals spend lots of time talking about the importance of staying connected, but few actually put this into practice. For many, sticking out their business card and waiting for something to happen is all anyone has learned how to do when it comes to networking.
It’s not enough to simply have a bunch of business cards if you aren’t doing anything with them. You will be wasting your time and energy if you don’t know what to say, or you’re not keeping track of who you’ve met and made a connection with.
This article will go into more detail about why limiting yourself to only having business cards is wrong, and easy to avoid. There’s no need to suffer through another conference session without meeting anyone!
Here I’ll talk about some reasons why getting personal with other professionals is so crucial to succeed in the workplace, and even enjoy work once you get there.
Buy products to sell
A lot of people start their networking career by choosing one profession they want to pursue or one area of business that intrigues them. The professionals then create a profile for themselves online in social media sites, put up signs and/or flyers promoting what they do, and spread their network wide to meet as many people as possible to promote their services.
But there’s an easier way to begin your networking career! By buying products and selling them, you can boost your income while developing your interpersonal skills.
By offering quality merchandise at a reasonable price, you will be able to connect with others around money, which is always a interesting conversation. You may even make some extra cash being honest about how much you spent to find this product!
There are several ways to approach investing in new materials. You can visit garage sales, search sale websites, and go into local stores to see if anything looks like it could use a refresh. Or, you can look onto marketplaces such as Amazon to determine whether someone else has a similar item and, if so, whether other individuals have received good reviews from customers.
As we know, being an entrepreneur means there’s no such thing as “retirement” for most people. Even when you decide to stop working, it can be hard to find that next job.
That’s why it is so important to build your network. You will have to invest time in meeting new people, but they’re worth it!
Networking doesn’t just mean going to every event where lots of professionals are gathered and trying to chat them up. It’s about investing in relationships that may help you later.
Start by introducing yourself to people around you. Ask how their day is going, if they’ve got any tips or tricks for improving your career, and what they do for fun.
Then, keep an eye out for other people who look like they’re having a good time at events, meetings or via lunch dates.
You could also invite those people onto a smaller group email or WhatsApp message list – this way, only two people know about each other, which helps protect privacy.
If you’d like, you could even exchange contact information outside of the group setting to avoid creating online profiles.
Set up a meeting
A great way to boost your networking skills is to be willing to meet someone for a chat or casual conversation. It does not need to be in person, but if you are looking to expand your network, this is one of the best ways to do it!
Start by setting an appointment with someone you have been talking to online or via phone. Then, once you are both ready, you can go into more detail about what you each want from the other and see where things lead.
This article will give you some tips on how to prepare for your meeting, and any questions you may have should be prepped ahead as well.
Dress the part
While networking is often framed as “selling,” it can actually help you find new jobs or opportunities that match your goals. Even if nothing comes of it, just spending time with like-minded people is always worth it.
Networking doesn’t necessarily mean meeting with every person in a position to hire you, but it does mean making an effort to connect with others who may be able to provide you with information or introductions.
By staying organized and dressy, you set yourself up for success. When you are prepared to meet someone, you will already have done some work to put them in good moods by sending out a professional note and/or doing some research about them.
Dress for success
When attending events, make sure you are dressed for the occasion. If there is going to be a party, then dress like you belong there.
If you work close to where you live, then don’t waste money buying fancy clothes that you will never wear. Find comfortable, casual clothing that looks polished and nice.
For business meetings, I would recommend wearing fitted black leather shoes, a crisp white shirt, and either a jacket or blazer — all of which are easily accessible at any affordable price.
Know your company
A business card is not only a way to promote yourself, but it’s also an excellent tool for finding new jobs or developing relationships with people you already know.
As we live in a digital age, most people no longer carry around physical notebooks, diaries, or address books.
Business cards are one of the oldest forms of personal documentation – a soft touch way to keep track of who you meet, what they do, and maybe even where you can find them later.
But how useful are business cards when all anyone has access to online is their smartphone?
Luckily, there are some easy ways to make sure everyone has yours before leaving for work or coming back home.
A networking business card is not only to have, but you must use it! When making calls to other professionals or individuals in your field, make sure that you match their level by asking appropriate questions and establishing conversations that are relevant to them and you.
Networking isn’t just for professional people either – meeting like-minded individuals can boost your personal confidence.
By interacting with others, you will learn more about different areas and how to improve yours. You may even find new friends!
Start building relationships today by choosing a setting and situation where opportunities arise. Don’t be shy – ask around, look online and read up on effective networking.
Commit to meetings
Even if you don’t feel like going to an event, we recommend that you still try to organize a meeting with someone after the conference. Chances are, there is at least one more member in your area that you have been avoiding because you thought it was too hard or you didn’t know what they did.
By trying to connect with people outside your comfort zone, you will open up opportunities to make connections within your field. Plus, most people enjoy being connected, so even if you aren’t feeling very social, others likely are!
And while some people may think that by asking someone out, they want you to work for free, many employers offer paid time off, which can be used for the meetup.
After you leave someone’s house, what do you usually do? You probably send an email or text message to say hello and see if they’re around tomorrow for a meeting. Or you might call them later that week to make sure everything is going well in their business.
That’s good networking! If you want to see more results from your time investment, then start developing relationships with people beyond just having a drink or attending a party.
By adding “wherever and whoever” you can, this will happen.
Start by asking about other people’s businesses, compliment or criticize something they said or done recently, etc. Then, keep checking back on those you met at the initial event to see who is now working with whom and why.
This way, you’ll know not only who to contact, but also how to connect them to each other.