The Essentials of Networking – 5 Ways to Get Started
Whether you’re looking to leave your job or just want to connect with individuals who may lead you to your next career move, networking is a must in today’s professional environment. Networking seems daunting to many individuals, particularly those who would not consider themselves overly charismatic or social butterflies. However, anyone can utilise the power of networking. Apply these five basic tactics to your repertoire, and you can create vast and productive professional contacts.
Start with your core network
The easiest way to construct a professional network is to leverage your current network. This may seem odd, considering you’re in the process of constructing a network. However, everyone already has a social network in place that can easily translate to a professional one. We all have a “core network” which includes our friends, family and acquaintances. Use these individuals to gain information on employment opportunities and industry news. It is also possible to use these family and friends so you can be introduced to people with whom you wouldn’t normally be in contact. This is particularly helpful when your friends have the same networking goals in mind and want to pool their efforts with you.
Create remarkable business cards
No matter the growth of online networking and social media, business cards are still a vital tool in the networking game. Consider investing in these new, especially customised cards. Business cards can be cut into many shapes and sizes. Further, many companies offer varied materials and formats as well. Consider purchasing business cards which include a professional photograph of yourself; this will enhance the odds that people will remember your face after they meet you. It will also make you appear more affable in a networking situation. It is not essential to put too much contact information on your cards; not only will this make the purchase of these cards more expensive, but people will typically just run your name in a search engine if they desire more information. Stick with the basics of a preferred method of contact, a Web site URL, a unique design and cut, and a picture.
Use social media
This is a technological age, and the internet plays a massive role in business. It can also be used to enhance your chances of business networking. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can be maximized to spread your personal brand and highlight your attributes. Relationships made via online connections can lead to opportunities not advertised in job forums, as well as to other potential connections through others. While professionalism must be paramount even in these “social networks,” this can be a fun and exciting way to network globally without leaving the comfort of home.
Go where the people are
In nearly every metropolis, there are at least a few haunts where the people of a particular industry congregate. Put in some research or friendly conversation goes a long way to give you some ideas of the hot spots in any industry. Once these spots are identified, go there with friends or colleagues and strike up a conversation with the person next to you. Putting yourself literally next to other people in your professional field will enhance your chances of networking success. This type of situation can also lead to further opportunities such as invites to actual industry networking events.
Use your past in the present
School reunions or university events are the hidden gems of the networking world. These events offer a room full of people with diverse interests and careers that you already have a common background as yourself. After reminiscing with your former classmates, club-mates, and friends, initiate a discussion about their careers, as well as your own. These old colleagues could be valuable connections in your future.
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