Networking Advice for Beginners
Networking is a very important – and often misunderstood – element in building your professional reputation and developing your career. Building a diverse and supportive network could make a big difference to your future, and following our simple guidelines could help you to get more benefits from your next networking event.
Whether you’re networking at a conference, a work social occasion or a specific networking event, you will have the opportunity to make and develop new professional connections. Success at all of these events depends upon the effort you put in, and the potential gains are well worth the extra input.
Here’s how to get the most from your next networking event:
Developing good working relationships with colleagues, associates and competitors is all part of your career pathway, and these five steps will help to make the process easier and more productive:
- Identify contacts beforehand. Simply turning up and checking out the other attendees is unlikely to be a successful strategy unless you are a particularly confident and natural speaker. For most of us, finding out who will be there and identifying the people you wish to speak to, is a very important way to begin.
- Know what you want. As with most aspects of your working life, it helps to identify your goals and targets beforehand. Look at your aims and consider whether it will be mutually beneficial for you and those you wish to connect with to work together or to build a connection that works for you both.
- Know what you can offer. The most surefire way to ensure that you can get the support you need when you need it is to be the first to offer. You should be clear about what you can offer and always be prepared to give as well as take. Building relationships that work for both parties is the most productive way forward for everyone.
- Hone your basic skills. People skills often make a huge difference to the success of a meeting, and these can be developed. Practice looking other people in the eye when you meet them, giving a genuine smile, and offering a firm, friendly handshake. Having a good understanding of current affairs or some interesting topics of discussion can be very useful, too.
- Follow up on connections. When you make a positive connection or build on an existing professional relationship, be sure to put the effort in to ensure that you reap the benefits. For example, if you want to arrange a further meeting, discuss this and exchange contact details, and agree a timescale that you will stick to.
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