Start today – that is before the need arises
Often people advice to go out and make connections once the need arises. That does not work. Networking within your industry and area of work should be a continuous effort. Be genuine when you approach people. A no agenda meeting often helps you build the relationship in a better manner than when you are trying to get some help.
Meet People Through Other People
Referrals work beautifully well and you only need to ask. Stick around with the people you already know and who know the people you are looking to meet. Being introduced to them or joining in with their conversations you will very likely receive a warm welcome and introduction to the person you wanted an introduction to. This is a similar effect to LinkedIn through their online introduction tool, or even through joining the right circle at an event with somebody you know
Leverage Social Media
Social Media is a big boon. It offers the advantage of not having to meet the person face to face and yet makes a conversation. Of course, the person also has an advantage of not having to respond to you. So start slow and add value, participate in meaningful conversations. When you finally do meet in person, there is a comfort that is already built up and it gets easier to maintain the relationship from there. Because you are connected on social media, it just becomes easier to drop a message now and then.
Never dismiss anyone as unimportant
We tend to do this all the time – discount other people basis their titles or their unassuming ways. There is something to learn from everyone and each person is connected to at least one influential person.
One sure shot way to be good at conversations is to be a good listener. At the next networking event, make sure that you don’t do all the talking. Listen! And add value to the other person.
When you meet a senior, it helps to give a genuine compliment. Of course, you must have done your background study well in advance so you know what exactly to say. Remember everyone feels good about themselves and more importantly their work. A good word about their work will put you in a good space to take your conversation further.
If you said, you will get back in touch, do get back. If the connection is absolutely important to you, ask for a one on one meeting. Again follow up is very critical. Send a mail right after an event. Genuinely invest in the relationship; it means that you need to give as much as you can take. Can you help the connection in any way – think, find a common ground and offer help. Seek help when you need. Be polite and precise.
Connect the dots
When you meet a lot of people, you simply know that someone would benefit from another one’s help; connects those two people even if they aren’t asking for it. Heck they might not even realize that they could benefit from a particular person’s help. That’s a lot of good karma.
Sometimes, someone is asking you connect to someone. So shoot that email. It takes two minutes. The person who is seeking a connection may immensely benefit from the connection and could even be life-changing. It is absolutely gratifying to make such connections, so indulge in it with all your heart.
Figure out how you can be useful
A networking event is full of people seeking help that you would rarely find someone offering help. Be sure to ask how may I help you? And then enjoy the appreciative smile that you receive. Also be extremely genuine. Offering help shouldn’t be merely a lip service. Can you proof read, can you help edit a manuscript, can you help with someone’s son’s thesis, can you build a website? Figure out how you can help and offer help. Always follow up with a business card!
Say Thank You
Well this is etiquette and you cannot go wrong this one. Go back and thank every person who helped you and offer something in return as gratitude. Hello, welcome to being an amazing networker.