If you are like most people, the thought of networking drums up visions of standing in the corner at some crowded after work event trying to introduce yourself to as many strangers as possible. In this networking game, the person with the most business cards wins. I do not like that game. I believe in the natural approach to networking. This is where you build one on one relationships in an organic way with the purpose of providing mutually beneficial exchanges of information.
There are so many benefits to networking, with finding your next job opportunity only being one of these benefits.
Check out 5 natural networking tips that can help take a lot of the headache out of figuring out who and how to network!
- Don't wait until you need the network to start building it. It looks very tacky to try to set up coffee catch ups or information interviews with someone who's been your connection on LinkedIn for over 2 years simply because you are looking for a new job. People are more likely to help you out if you've been engaged with them prior to needing their assistance.
- Think strategically about how to expand your network. There may be no such thing as bad publicity, but there is such thing as unnecessary networking. Determine your purpose for building new relationships. What's the point? This will help you make deliberate decisions as to who you need to reach out to.
- EVERY time you are meeting with someone, you are networking. Making small talk in the elevator at work is networking. Going for afterwork drinks with some colleagues who work in another department in your building is networking. Always use the opportunity to get to know new people and learn how you can help each other professionally.
- Take some of the pressure out of networking, by looking for non-professional ways to meet new people. Get a hobby. Volunteer at a local charity. This type of networking can take some of the edge off of putting yourself out there to meet someone new.
- BE YOURSELF at all times. No one wants to get to know a phony. Some relationships will fizzle, but most of them won't as long as you remain authentic and true to yourself.
What other natural networking tips have worked for you in the past?