Regardless of your industry, job title, or dream job, in order to be successful, you have to understand the importance of networking and fully grasp the best ways to network. Attending events or meeting people that are in some way connected to the work that you do can prove beneficial in many ways. Sometimes, the best ideas are sparked from conversations that occur outside of the office and away from your desk.
To instill trust and credibility in both your personal brand and the company you work for, you have to showcase your abilities and reinforce your professionalism. At our agency, we’ve found that whether you are making new connections or maintaining old ones, it’s best to consider the following as good rules of thumb for the world of networking:
1. Be Open-Minded and Memorable
Introduce yourself and talk to as many people as you can when you’re at events or in any situation where you are meeting people relevant to your industry. Making the first steps in that initial conversation shows not only your outgoing attitude, but also your dedication to and passion for your career.
When you think about how many people you meet at any given event, it’s likely the number is very high. To make yourself memorable, be sure to point out what it is that you do differently than most people in your position. Offer your best tip on a given subject, or talk about your organization’s unique take on a run-of-the-mill task. No matter what you do, you need to point out your selling point — what makes you different. Leave an impression so that potential employers keep you in mind and want to do business with you in some capacity.
2. Track Who You Meet, Where You Met Them, and What They Do
Taking detailed notes is key! After you finish speaking with someone, take a few notes to help you remember that person so that you can add a personal touch when you follow up with them.
If I connect with someone on LinkedIn on the spot (yes, I am known to launch my app and connect right then and there!), I will also open up my notes app and write down something like “met at Gansevoort Seminar — sells websites, loves sushi, moving soon.” Mentioning these personal notes weeks later will help the contact remember who you are and also show that you really were listening and are truly invested in what they do.
3. Follow Up
After noting some key takeaways from your conversation, take the time a few days later to say “Hi” and tell the person that you enjoyed meeting them; point out parts of the conversation you found enlightening. Bring something up from the conversation you had with the person — perhaps a personal note you discussed — in order to build a mental connection between who you are and how the person met you.
4. Touch Base
Only contacting someone when you need something for yourself rarely works out well. Check in with a contact whenever you hear or read about something that is relevant to the industry they’re in, their company, or even their personal interests. Keep the lines of communication open! If you make the first contact with someone six months after meeting them because you’re in need of a new job or a service they offer, there is a good chance your message will come across as disingenuous – and it will probably end up in the trash. If you regularly have conversations with your contacts — even brief ones — it won’t seem uncalled for when you speak to them about something you really need.
5. Refer and Connect
Keep your contacts in mind at all times — just like you want them to do for you. If someone you have done business with is looking for a service or product that you don’t offer, refer them to one of your connection if possible. If a contact gets business because of someone you sent their way, they’ll be much more likely to return the favor when an opportunity arises.
Most people network for themselves when they need or want something. If you take the mindset of “What can I do for you?” instead, it can truly lead to great success. People want to reciprocate when you do something nice for them. The best way to get the most out of your contacts is to show them that you always have their best interests in mind; in turn, they’ll do the same for you.