how to perfect your networking skills

how to perfect your networking skills
You may not realize it, but almost every day you are involved in some sort of networking activity. Whether it’s socializing with friends at the weekend or chatting with colleagues over lunch. Every conversation you have is valuable and has the potential to enlighten and inspire you in some way or even lead to new contacts within your industry. 

Regardless of your current sector, every opportunity to build relationships with like-minded professionals is a chance to increase your professional network. You never know which connection might lead to new business or further opportunities. Any networking environment is also a great chance to practice your networking technique and really refine your social skills. 

Here are some top tips to improve your networking tactics: 

set goals for networking events
Attending industry events may sound like a given, but it is simply not enough to attend. Very often people attend these events but with little results.  

Research the event and attendees and decide what you would like to achieve from attending. Be strategic about the kinds of conversations you’d like to have, particular individuals you’d like to meet and any information you’d like to pick up. Ensure that you are approachable, friendly and concise about what you want. Most importantly, be yourself and find a connection or a reason to stay in touch with existing contacts. 

keep in touch
Following the initial meeting, it is important to get in touch with your new contact within an appropriate time frame. 

If they mentioned they were really busy with work this week, send them an email the following week to follow up. It can be something as simple as saying how grateful you are for the opportunity to speak with them and you hope to stay in touch. If you have anything of value to share, this is also the time to do it. 

use social networking
It is important to consider the day-to-day management of your networks. Twitter and LinkedIn are two social networks that can be used to widen your reach and maintain visibility with the people you may not get to speak with on a daily basis. 

Make sure that your profile is as polished as it can be. By adding value to your profile you will be seen as a leader in your field and someone in the know. It is equally important to connect with internal colleagues - you may want to remain in touch as they move onto other organisations or roles in the future.

build 2-way relationships
By offering a contact help they will be more willing to help you in return – depending on how much they want/need from you, you could potentially become a new asset for them. 

Prepare for this by compiling your attributes and key accomplishments. Go over them. What were the challenges? What have you learned? And most importantly how would it help a potential employer to improve their processes in your field.

stay up-to-date
The industry is constantly changing and as a career-minded professional with growth on the brain, you need to be willing to evolve with it. Once networks have been established it is crucial to keep up with current challenges within the industry and be aware of business needs. 

By staying up-to-date you can be a colleague of value; be someone who sends them link with instructions for an issue that has dominated their work day, or provide another way of doing things if they can’t seem to finish that major project. Use your experience to make someone else’s day easier and they will be happy to pay it forward. Remain the confident and savvy individual that you are and these connections will be your greatest allies on the road towards success.

Posted: Friday, 17 March 2017 - 9:00 AM