Connections are valuable in any industry. Creating new relationships with others opens doors for opportunities, fresh perspectives, and experiences, which, you’ll probably agree, means more chances to grow personally and professionally.
Because making connections is so crucial to development, we thought it would be helpful to put together networking tips that can be used in any scenario. Use these tips to get better at networking and start making valuable personal and professional connections.
What do you want to learn?
There’s a person for everything, right? There’s always an expert. But sometimes these experts aren’t easy to get ahold of. They’re busy and don’t have time to talk to every single person, especially if they can’t guarantee that the person wanting to connect is serious about it. So, is a person supposed to give up if they can’t get in touch with an expert? Of course not. Instead, you must gain the attention of the experts in your respective field by showing them that you are serious.
Do this by … well, by being serious. Whatever it is you want to learn more about, put in the work and don’t be afraid of failing. Try your best to figure it out for yourself, but also be willing to ask around. You may not meet an expert in the field, but there’s always someone who knows more than you. Humble yourself and seek those people out before you go straight to the experts. Getting time with the pros is earned. And if an expert lends a word of advice or guidance, take it because it’s extremely valuable.
Networking doesn’t have to only be about your gains.
While putting yourself out there and doing your best to make connections, remember that it’s not all about you. So many networking tips out there only focus on what others can do for you. This is your opportunity to tell others what you want to do for them. Doing this will help you remember that one of your main goals in life should be to leave a positive impact on the lives of others. Plus, the more often you help others, you increase the likelihood of being introduced to someone else, thus creating multiple connections, just by offering to lend a hand.
Find new ways to ask old questions.
As you’re talking to someone new, you may feel compelled to ask the same old questions:
- What do you do for work?
- How long have you been in this industry?
- Do you have any hobbies?
- What skills do you have that are relevant to all industries?
Instead, try asking the same questions but in a way that feels fresh.
- What’s your current focus and how does it help your position?
- What trends have you noticed within your industry and how long did they last?
- Could you tell me what you do for your own enjoyment in your free time?
- Will you share a couple of your skills that you think are transferable to any position?
Asking questions in this way will likely provide you with more information than the first method would have. It gives people an opportunity to expand on their answers and provides you with chances to ask more questions.
Confidence is key.
In this list of networking tips put together by Indeed™, confidence is in the top 5, and we couldn’t agree more. And one of the best ways to show confidence is to come prepared. Even if you aren’t feeling confident, having answers ready for questions that you know will be asked is a sure way to appear confident. But don’t overprepare or your answers might feel artificial and scripted. Demonstrate confidence by reminding yourself that you give your best effort to every task. With that in mind, you will seem less nervous and less likely to trip over your words in conversation. As they say, “Fake it ‘til you make it.”
One of the most important networking tips is this—listen! Practice actively listening while you’re networking. Whether you’re at a big conference or in a local grocery store, keep your ears tuned in to your surroundings. First and foremost, devote your attention to the person that you’re connecting with. But if you have yet to make a connection, listen closely to the conversations going on around you. Oftentimes, you will hear someone say something that you relate to. Don’t appear desperate, but use whatever “in” you have to strike up a conversation.
Lead with politeness, respect, and friendliness. If you hear someone mention that they’re looking for a new restaurant to try, recommend one of your favorites. If you overhear someone complaining about their hair salon, suggest one that you frequent or have heard great things about. Look for an opportunity to start a conversation and seize the moment.
And if you’re really hoping to make a connection but can’t work up the nerve to initiate the conversation, “accidentally” drop something in front of someone. Your keys, your hat, your sunglasses, maybe a pack of gum. When they try to hand it to you, say thank you. Now you have an opening!
Use these networking tips and search for more!
At least one of the tips listed above is sure to work for you. And if they don’t, then search for someone who can teach you the ways. Observe networking regulars and try to mimic their successful approaches. You’re sure to start making those valuable connections in no time.
After a long day of networking, it’s understandable to feel stressed. Try these 12 stress-relieving practices to help minimize the tension.