There are many myths about networking, but networking means nothing more than making new mutually beneficial relationships and building connections with other people. Useful business contacts, acquaintances, and connections can help you find a new job or professional opportunities, solve your problems, or even bring your career to the next level. Whether you work in a law company, private school, online Hungarian kaszinó, or make money with your blog, there will always be individuals who share your industry, career, or interests.
Exchanging ideas with people working in the same industry or related fields can expand your knowledge and give you insights into the industry. These people may collaborate with you on projects, help you find new jobs, or connect you to other people who you want to meet. Plus, this marketing tool is cost-effective. Maintaining existing (business) connections across your industry is also an important part of networking. However, to become great at building and maintaining connections does take practice and time. It is also great to know the fundamentals of professional networking before doing it.
History of networking: how it all began
Networking first appeared in the distant 1970s, and later took shape as a whole scientific trend. It was based on the “rule of six handshakes”, developed by Jeffrey Travers and Stanley Milgram. They put forward a hypothesis that every two people living on the planet are connected by only five common acquaintances of different levels.
That is, practically all people seem to know each other but through their common acquaintances. Later such an idea was slightly developed and transformed. More pragmatic people suggested that with the help of connections, you can solve your problems. This is how networking appeared.
How to do networking?
There are different offline and online forms of professional networking. One of the commonest ways to do professional networking is to attend industry and company events (conferences, workshops, etc.). Networking also may involve joining professional online communities and associations. Today many people also use various online platforms (LinkedIn, Shapr, Meetup, Slack, Twitter, etc.) to network.
Tips on how to improve networking habits
So, there are many places to practice networking, and networking is good. However, some people, especially introverts, are hesitant to network because of shyness or out of fear of being seen as annoying. But once you start building your professional network, you will see that being annoying has nothing common with networking. Some people make mistakes when building connections that prevent them from asking for help later on. And we have compiled some tips on effective professional networking to increase your social well-being.
1. Be generous
Even if you network to gain something (referrals, career opportunities, etc.), you should be ready to give something to other people. A hit-and-run strategy, when people only get what they want and disappear, is more about using other people than networking. Ask yourself how to be useful to other people and offer them help, assistance, and referrals. Mutual benefit and support are key to effective networking.
2. Always be sincere, honest and authentic
Do not lie, embellish reality, or exaggerate your abilities. Nothing good will come out of it. Try to be yourself and treat people with kindness and goodwill.
3. Network everywhere
If you want to build up your network, try to make networking part of your life. Be open to new acquaintances and try to consider every place as a chance to find new interesting networking opportunities.
4. Learn to communicate and present yourself well
To present yourself well, learn the basics of business conversation. It means you should master the basics of small talk and be a good listener. Don’t dominate the conversation and always give the other person an opportunity to speak about themselves. Prepare your elevator pitch ahead: it is a 30-second introduction about yourself and your organization. This speech must be clear, and show other people what you can bring to the table and be useful. Be ready to give your contact information to other people after an elevator pitch or conversation.
5. Stay in touch with your network
It is important to always stay in touch with everyone you know. Yes, it may seem difficult, especially if you don’t have enough time to communicate with your family. And yet sometimes a simple “How are you?” or congratulations on the holiday is enough. For example, at a corporate event, go up to a person, and chat with him. And if it’s someone’s birthday, just send him or her a message on LinkedIn.
6. Don’t be annoying
This applies not only to dating and communicating with people but also to job requests. If you once asked a person about something, then you should not constantly remind yourself. If the help has not been provided, it means that either a person can not do anything for you and is afraid to report it, or does not want to help you. You can only remind yourself once or twice, but no more.
Networking can help you make huge strides in your career path, and grow professionally and personally. Follow the six tips we have listed in this article, build up your professional network over time, and enjoy networking!