It’s no secret that networking is crucial to developing your career, but are you sure you’re making the most of your networking opportunities? Too often, we see candidates approach networking like they’re competing in a speed dating competition, where the only goal seems to be to hand out as many business cards and make as many contacts as possible!
You want to make the most of these opportunities and to use your time effectively – here’s how you can network like a pro.
Ditch the elevator pitch
Instead of putting all of your energy on delivering your perfectly crafted ‘pitch’, focus on piquing the other person’s interest instead. Find out what’s on their mind, ask questions and then follow up with ideas or demonstrate how your skills and experience might be of value to them. Now, you’re not just ‘networker’ trying to impress or sell something, but you’re an individual who can add value or help them with their immediate needs.
Attend networking events solo
It’s easier and sometimes more economical to attend networking events and conferences with your fellow colleagues, but travelling in a group can limit the number of contacts you’ll make. If you must go as a team, make a plan to network and mingle individually and then come back together and share your new contacts with the rest of the group.
Aim to collect more business cards than you hand out
You meet someone you’re keen to connect with and hand over your business card, only to never hear from them again. Sound familiar? While it’s all well and good to have an impressive business card that you want to pass on, it’ll be much more strategic and valuable to collect information yourself. This way, you’re in control of the follow up and can make the most of the opportunity at hand.
Invest more than you receive
We’re more likely to invest time into networking if we’re after something immediate, such as a job or business opportunity, but it’s just as important to network the other way. Be sure to offer your expertise and deliver value to your contacts and find ways to connect others. We’re confident that building your professional karma will serve you well in the long run.
Develop smart digital networks
Social media has opened up a whole new range of networking opportunities, but you need to know how to use your channels wisely. Many professionals, especially C-level executives, are going guarded and cautious about whom they share their contacts with, so you probably won’t have much success trying to connect directly to them on Linkedin. However, Twitter and Linkedin Groups are fantastic channels as first points of contacts with thought leaders and important industry minds. Engage them in a conversation and then find opportunities to follow up on a more personal level.