Do you shudder when you hear the words “networking” or “social networking”?
You’re not the only one.
Making a commitment to attend a huge event, where you’re likely to know only a handful of people, and could spend the evening standing on your own desperately looking for someone to speak to, is nobody’s cup of tea. Neither is having to reach out to people you barely know on a social network and act as if it’s totally normal to start speaking to a stranger online.
But, the truth is, business success is largely attributed to who you know, who knows you, and how they can help you achieve your career goals. In fact, 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn, one of the top social networking platforms to vet candidates.
Enter the New Professional, a career-oriented individual who knows how to use networking to advance their career.
Goal oriented and passionate, New Professionals recognise they cannot make an impact in their career without strong networking skills. They take deliberate steps to master networking, ensuring they remain top of mind when a crucial business opportunity arises. They treat networking, and social networking, like you would meaningful friendships.
New Professionals use these 3 simple strategies to establish meaningful business connections:
Strategy 1: Lose the networking formalities
You don’t need to attend fancy networking events in order to connect and communicate with people. Rachel Weiss, VP of digital strategy and innovation at L’Oreal USA, is a well-connected woman who finds activating her social communication skills to be fun and effortless. Every year for the past 5 years, she’s thrown a dinner party. In the beginning, only a handful of people showed up, but at the most recent one, 50 people showed – some who were friends of friends, some who were industry people she had met over the years, and some who were close friends.
Her secret? She hosts the dinner at a cheap, small restaurant because she likes networking with people in an informal way. “I like to meet people everywhere and it doesn’t matter matter where they work or what they do,” she says. “Sometimes the most unexpected relationships happen from just going about your daily life.”
Who will you invite for dinner next month?
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Strategy 2: Communicate with people in a genuine way
If you’re going to lose the formality, you also need to realise that networking and social networking is not restricted to business.
You’d imagine that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett would have spent their time together discussing business topics and career moves. But in fact, it was their mutual love for the card game Bridge that cultivated a friendship between the two men. This bond is what eventually led to Buffett’s decision to entrust billions to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Who can you find common ground with this week?
Strategy 3: Follow up with more communication
Treat your professional connection the way you would a friend. This means taking a sincere interest in your time with them and paying attention to the small details.
Kim Marie Branch-Pettid, CEO and president of LeTip International, a business networking and referral organisation, recommends this strategy:
After your initial lunch with an important business contact, jot down a few notes about topics they brought up, and follow up with an email that makes reference to the notes you jotted down: “Good luck with that interview.” Close off by offering to assist in some way. For example, offer to put in a good word for them with your friend who works at the company they’re hoping to join.
Where can you put your communication skills to good use today?Seek out leadership roles and people will come to you. Click To Tweet Don’t focus on fear; focus on the joy of connecting with others. Click To Tweet Need a reason to network? “Succeeding in business is all about making connections.” Click To Tweet Interesting people easily make meaningful connections, talk about topics other than work. Click To Tweet You will need a follow up comment and a warm smile, but sometimes the best opening line is “Hi”. Click To Tweet
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