Networking can feel intimidating if you don’t know where to start. In today’s world the ability to effectively network is needed in the corporate environment. By knowing how to effectively network, you can build potential life long contacts that can help your business and personal life in the future. Below are five tips I recommend for effective networking.
Prepare yourself. Know who you are both professionally and personally. If you are confused when explaining who you are and what you do, you might have a difficult time establishing credibility. The first impression is important so make a good one. Set high expectations for your first impression by fully preparing yourself mentally. Know your industry’s jargon and learn about the types of people you hope to meet.
Don’t miss the events. Stay cognizant of events, conventions, and seminars that have to do with your line of work. Many career industries have their own organizations and affiliations so check them out, find out what works for you, and then join. By participating in events you create visibility for your business, and visibility is needed if you want to increase your bottom line.
Get a card. While it’s ok to scribble your name down on the back of a napkin, it’s far more professional to be able to hand out a business card to people. If you write your name on something that looks like a piece of trash, it will probably be treated like a piece of trash and eventually get accidentally or intentionally thrown away. Invest the time and effort in obtaining professional business cards. Make sure your cards display the image you want others to have of you and your business.
Don’t be shy. How do you expect to meet people with your back against the wall? Effective networking requires getting your back off the wall and mingling. While it is true shy types can still have great success, wisdom tells us an outgoing personality has a better chance. Take the first plunge into introducing yourself, eventually the shyness will wear off and speaking with others will become easier.
Keep in touch. It doesn’t do much good to receive a business card from a potential contact if you don’t plan on using the numbers or emails on the card. The first part of networking requires getting in touch, the second part of networking requires keeping in touch. Give people a ring and say “hi”, eventually that contact may turn into a resource.
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