Who you know is just as important as what you know, so the first step in any career should be building a network. The following 10 tips will help you establish strong relationships with trusting, helpful contacts.
- Don’t Hesitate To Ask
Connecting with the right people is often as simple as requesting an introduction. If you know someone with valuable business contacts, ask him or her to introduce you to the people you want to meet and you’ll have your foot in the door in no time.
- Focus On Former Contacts
Before you try to network with people whom you’ve never met, consider contacts you already have. Thanks to Facebook and other social media, it’s easier than ever to reconnect with old friends, roommates, and colleagues. Your former connection will provide plenty of pretext to contact them and see what they can offer you.
- Indulge Your Interests
Valuable contacts are often found where you least expect them, so don’t limit yourself to standard business channels. If you have a passion for Batman, go to a comic book convention. If you speak Portuguese, join a Lusophone club. Sooner or later, you’ll meet a useful business contact, and your common ground will make networking easy.
- Practice Persistently
Networking requires you to start conversations with strangers, something even the most outgoing individuals have trouble doing. The only way to get over this fear is to practice. Whenever you come into contact with new people, try to converse with them.
- Share Your Stories
Though it’s often said that you should keep your professional and private lives separate, a personal story is a great way to set yourself apart from the rest. After hearing your story, potential contacts will be more likely to remember you and offer future assistance.
- Set Aside Money
Networking often involves going out for dinner, drinks, or other amenities with your new contacts, the high price of which turns many people off. Set aside a sum of money each week for such events. That way, you’ll be less hesitant to take advantage of a potential opportunity.
- Get Involved
Volunteer work is a great way to meet potential employers and partners. As you develop a reputation for committed charity work, you’ll earn the trust of fellow volunteers, making them more willing to help you out in other areas.
- Ask For Favors
It may sound counterintuitive, but potential contacts are more likely to view you positively if you ask them for favors rather than do them favors. Asking them to help you makes them feel empowered and valuable, providing the foundation for both a professional relationship and a friendship.
- Take Advantage of Breaks
Holiday and quarterly breaks provide a valuable time to cement your relationship with potential contacts. Call them up, talk to them about anything but work, and consider hanging out with them during the break. This will show them that you care about them for their own sakes, rather than just because they can help your career.
- Learn to Listen
Whenever contacts offer you advice, listen carefully to what they have to say, think about it critically, and offer feedback. Your contacts want to know that you really value their counsel, and don’t just see them as temporary resources. Listening is the easiest and most effective way to show them that you care.
Globe University is committed to helping you succeed in any industry. For more information on network building and other business skills, visit our website today.