Top 5 Tips to Network Effectively and Positively
By Antonietta Marinelli | July 09, 2021
What is networking? A question in which most of us ask, specifically when entering the professional-career part of our lives. Networking is about interacting and engaging with different people for mutual benefit and can be used a tool for finding new employment opportunities, promotional opportunities, or business ventures. The means of networking is to create a professional and reputable standard for yourself. You are your own brand, and you must display it in the most professional and appealing way possible. Career advancement is as much about who you know as what you know – and that is exactly why being a powerful networker is so important (Triffin, 2014).
Ph.D., and author of “Networking Like a Pro”, Ivan Misner states that since there are so many different platforms for people to network themselves from these days, you must find ways to cut through the white noise and get noticed. First impressions are crucial and going to an event can open a door of many opportunities with the right approach. We tend to shy away from ‘putting ourselves out there’ because we do not want to come across too eager, or annoying, however by putting yourself out there you are not only expanding your professional skills, but learning how to communicate in a skillful and professional manner which can be taken into your future role/s.
So, the question remains, how do I network in a positive and effective way?
Tip 1. Set Yourself A Goal
Before attending a networking event, or an event where you know industry professionals will be present, set yourself up a goal. Go in prepared and motivated with the intention to achieve this goal. Your goal may be to speak to 5 people, and find out where they work, or it could be speaking to one person for a set amount of time and asking them specific questions. Something handy that people do is have themselves a 1–2-minute statement of purpose. This is a opener to use when engaging with people which includes what you do, or what you did most recently and what you want to do moving forward. By having a goal in mind, you are going to achieve something for yourself, and will hold that feeling of achievement once that event is over.
Tip 2. Originality Is Key
Here it is, the old cliché, “Be. Yourself”. But really, be yourself. People can sense when you are not being genuine and pretending to be something that you are not. Being yourself with new people and creating a natural and smooth connection is terrific and pretending to be something you are not can backfire moving forward. When people engage in catering to others, they try to predict what they want to hear, and they act accordingly. But making such predictions is difficult and commonly leads to errors (Gino, 2016). Honesty is the best policy, and your true self will shine brighter than your pretend self ever could. Remember, be professional but true to what you represent as a person.
Tip 3: Networking Etiquette
The one thing you should not do when going to network is push your business card, your profile, or your business into people’s faces. Networking is about building a genuine connection, trust, and credibility. You may have a service or offering in which may be relevant to the people you are interacting with but a hard-sell in a networking environment can come across as crass, and may give the wrong impression (fsb, 2013). Also, remember to always say thank-you after meeting someone. Thank them for engaging in a conversation with you, and for giving you the time to speak with them. It is always a friendly gesture to offer any assistance they may need in the future and share any knowledge you feel would be helpful.
Tip 4: Dress Professionally And Appropriately
Dress to impress! When you look good, you feel good and feeling good whilst networking is vital for your networking confidence. Dressing professional does not necessarily mean wearing formal attire, but more so, a clean attire which is appropriate for the setting or place you are in.
Tip 5: Research
The best impressions are the ones that appear effortless. If you can find out the attendees for a particular event, AMAZING! Use this to your advantage and do your research. Be prepared to ask questions in which are in align with a particular person and learn about them to find a mutual conversation that can begin. Holding mutually interesting conversations makes it easier to share what you want to about yourself or field of work.
• FSB. 2013. 10 Top Tips for Amazing Networking. Fsb. [Accessed 9 July 2021] https://www.fsb.org.uk/resources-page/10-top-tips-for-amazing-networking.html
• Gino, Fr. 2016. When Networking, Being Yourself Really Does Work. Harvard Business Review. [Accessed 9 July 2021] https://hbr.org/2016/09/when-networking-being-yourself-really-does-work
• Triffin, M. 2014. 8 Secrets From Power Networking Pros. Forbes. [Accessed 8 July 2021] https://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2014/07/23/secrets-from-power-networking-pros/?sh=2d3334034e5a