In today’s world, you can reach career success in many unconventional ways. In order to advance, you need networking skills. Networking helps build your network and keep you connected. The possibilities of a strong network are endless. Networking can take you from the back of the line to the front. Ever wonder how someone always seems to know the who’s who in every field? Or how the entry-level professional rose up the ranks to a senior management position in record time? I’d bet that they knew how to get to the right people and develop key relationships. There’s always a business conference, after-work event, or gala that will allow you to be in a room with very influentual people. Take advantage of those opportunities and add to your digital rolodex. If you’re inexperienced, with a little knowledge and practice, you’ll be a pro before you know it.
For the outgoing extrovert, social settings are a breeze. For the shy introvert, it could seem intimidating and send you into a mini-panic attack. Relax and breathe easy. I’m here to help. Here are 5 tips to get you started:
- Present Yourself in the Best Way. When you look polished, it gives you a certain confidence. More often than not, people have an idea about who you are before you even open your mouth. Don’t show up to a networking event in jeans and sneakers and expect anyone to be impressed. Pull out your best business attire and make sure that you’re communicating who you are and what you’re capable of. When you walk into a room, you want people to think, “Who is that?” and not “Why are they here?”
- Smile. A smile is your best accessory. It makes people feel warm, welcomed, and relaxed. The last thing you want to do is seem unapproachable or like you’re not happy to be there. For people to want to stay in touch with you, they have to like you. Be a function-favorite by having good conversation, being social, and putting on your best smile.
- Put down the phone, make eye contact, and be engaged. Pay attention and ask questions. Do not daydream and absolutely do not get on your phone. You don’t want to be in a situation where your mind wanders off and the person asks for feedback about what they just said. Show genuine interest and ask follow-up questions about the information that the person has given you about themselves and what they do.
- Don’t take over the conversation. Many people have a habit of finishing others’ sentences or interrupting. Some people may not be able to find their train of thought or they might ramble and you may be thinking, “Get to the point” or “Let me help them finish their thought because this is taking forever.” I am the queen of “Just say it!” in my personal life but in a professional environment, especially when you’re trying to network and set a good impression, this is a no-no. Interrupting can come off as rude and you may be trying to finish someone’s sentence but you could be missing out on important information that they want to communicate. Take a deep breath, relax, and listen.
- Remember the names of everyone you meet. It helps to research who you’d like to meet before you even get there. Who’s hosting the event? Who are the sponsors? The speakers? The VIPs? You could be washing your hands in the bathroom and standing next to the president at the company of your dream job and not even know it. In a different scenario, you could be out and about and run into that executive that you had a great conversation with. You’ll want to remember what their name is for future reference. When someone remembers my name, I’m impressed and know that they value who I am. If you have to, ask for the person to remind you. They won’t take offense to it, I promise. It’s better to ask than to not know.
These are some helpful tips to get you started. Stay tuned for Networking Your Way To Career Success: Part 2.
By guest blogger, Stefanie C. Mitchell
Stefanie C. Mitchell is a Digital Marketing Specialist with S. Mitchell Marketing. She creates effective marketing strategies and utilizes online tools to build, grow, and promote brands. Stefanie is the Chief Curator of Social Lites, an online blog that offers insights and shares the latest tips and trends in the marketing industry.