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Create a Better Network With These Tips

Published on Friday, 12 Aug 2016

Networking seems to be one of those skills that most people feel they’re lacking in. It isn’t necessarily easy to strike up a conversation with a stranger, much less cultivate a strong positive impression that can lead to a future job prospect. Yet, networking is absolutely vital in today’s professional world. Without a well-connected network, it can be extremely difficult to find a prospective position in your field of work or to get your foot in the door with a promising company. The key to leveraging your connections isn’t with networking on a full-time basis until you land a job, it’s to network effectively. Here are just some ways you can create a better network for yourself.

Go alone. Although it is extremely tempting to attend a networking event with a friend or fellow classmate, do your very best to resist going with someone for the moral support. The whole point of a networking event is to meet new people and make new connections. If you go with someone you already know, you’re more than likely to stick to conversing with them throughout the evening -- essentially defeating the purpose of going to a networking event in the first place. Do yourself and your career a favour and head out alone to your next networking event and see how much more likely you are to strike up a conversation with someone new.

Be in the present. Networking events can be intimidating and nerve-wracking, especially when you haven’t found someone to talk to yet. It’s common for people to reach for your mobile phones when they don’t have anyone to talk to in a crowd, but stay away from your device. Be engaged in your surroundings. Don’t avoid eye contact by looking down towards your phone and be distracted from having the conversations you came to have. Look around and purposefully seek out as many people as you can who you can talk to. 

Leave your business cards behind. How often have you returned from a networking eventwith a pile of business cards that you ended up throwing in the bin? Handing someone your business card practically guarantees that it will be thrown out without a second thought. Instead of robotically handing out your business card to everyone you some across, ask the people you want to follow-up with for their contact details. Capture their information on your phone and put the responsibility on you to reach out again.

Follow-up. The previous tip is only helpful if you follow-up with the contacts whose information you asked for. Just as important as the act of simpling following up with a contact is the manner in which you reconnect with them. By all means, do not pitch your new contact in any way during this initial phase of your relationship. They still do not know you well and therefore do not feel invested in you or your future success yet. All business relationships must start with a friendship so when you follow-up, do so with the intent to make casual plans that are mutually interesting. 

Build a true relationship. Your network connects will only come to bear the fruits of your labour if you have developed a solid relationship. Until your network knows you on a deeper 
level and feels somewhat interested in seeing you succeed, your network is just a loose tangle of moving parts. In order to leverage your network, first you must reach a point where you can discuss business opportunities with someone who will feel as though they know you well enough to risk putting their reputation and judgement on the line.

The power of leveraging your network is immense in today’s business world. Unfortunately, building a worthwhile and advantageous network doesn’t come easily or quickly, Instead of wasting your time networking as if grasping at straws, network smarter with these tips for creating a better network. 

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