5 Tips for Networking Success
Guest Blogger: Amy M. Jones, Freelance Writer and Digital Marketer
It pays to know people. I've experienced this first hand. This may be naive, but I like to think that people are generally good and they will be helpful if possible. If you have been kind and generous to them, it's easy for them to reciprocate.
Networking has made such a big difference in my life. When I first started showing up to community events, I went because I am an extrovert and I like people. I genuinely wanted to meet like-minded professionals and socialize.
After a few friendly hand shakes at numerous ongoing events, networking started to naturally happen. I began to realize the benefits of creating these acquaintances, and I decided to take my networking to the next level. I am so glad that I did this because my career has benefited greatly.
With a little networking success under my belt, I thought I would share a few ways that I have successfully networked with others online and in person.
In an uncomfortable situation it can be easy to talk about ourselves a lot because it's a familiar topic to us. Use this to get curious about others. Ask them questions and LISTEN to their answers. You might learn something new, make an unknown connection to a mutual friend or establish something that you can explore later. Be willing to share a few things about yourself as well.
Put on a friendly face
I know this seems like common sense, but I have witnessed this too many times. Networking doesn't magically happen by walking in the door. I always tell myself, "We are all uncomfortable!" Sometimes I even say this because it's genuinely how I feel! This networking thing is not going to work if you scowl in the corner. Put on your brave face, smile a little, and be brave. We are all in this together.
Take a friend along
Take someone with you, but don't rely on them to entertain you. Challenge each other to introduce each other to new people. Conversations with three people are more dynamic in these situations than between two people. Awkward silence is less likely to happen, and it can be easier to walk away from a conversation that isn't connecting with you.
Join a committee
Honestly, this is the best advice I can offer because it was the key to my networking success. It's hard to establish a real connection with someone in just a few minutes. You have to take the introduction to another level, and we all know that this takes work. Most people won't go the extra mile.
The real connection comes after the networking event. After attending several local young professional events, I offered to serve on a committee that met once a month for one hour during lunch. (I know that not everyone can do this, but there are lots of volunteering options.) This is where I met some great people AND did some great work.
One of the best ways to create a sense of camaraderie with others is to introduce them to each other. You are breaking the ice, and you are giving them a common connection. This is good for you and good for them.
A success story
A few years ago an acquantaince asked me if I would be interested in joining a book group with some other women. I thought highly of this person, and I quickly agreed! This was one of the best decisions I ever made for my personal and professional life.
Two years later, we continue to meet once a month for dinner and conversation (we claim to read a book or two). In that time, every single person has made a significant change in their career. Would this have happened without the book club? Maybe. But, it certainly wouldn't have been the same. We push each other to negotiate for raises and stronger titles, we support each other with growing confidence, and we cheer each other on consistently.
During one of our sessions, we started talking about how we all met each other. Ironically, we didn't all really remember how it happened that all these faces were familiar at the first meeting.
We realized that we all vaguely knew each other from volunteering with our local chamber. It was networking that brought us together. We didn't know much about each other, but one person was bold enough to get us all in the same room. She took networking a step deeper, and we are all thankful she did.
In person or online, Put on your smile, and go out and meet someone new!