Career Advice Professional Development

Networking Guide: Learn How to Network

By: JobGet
Apr 9, 2020 • 9 min read

To grow in your career, you will need to learn how to network. Sometimes simply being good at your job isn’t enough – there may not be room to grow at the company you are currently working with, or other factors. Networking might sound intimidating, but in practice, maintaining professional relationships is no big deal. To begin with, let us first discuss what networking is all about.

Networking: what it is and what it is for

As the name suggests, networking means to build connections between people and professionals to exchange experiences and opportunities, be it work, knowledge, or skills.

By its definition, networking emerged as the so-called contact network. The network that leverages job and business offers through relationships developed in the various channels of professional communication, some of them with specific purposes focused on work.

Importance of good networking

Networking allows you to establish links between people you know and those you don’t yet know, all for the same purpose. It is a great way to get what you want and help others achieve the same.

In addition, it also serves to enhance the visibility of your personal brand. By developing a network of contacts, you can:

  • Meet new people
  • Increase in quality your network of contacts
  • Discover skills that you did not know you had!
  • Find new job opportunities
  • Improve the visibility of your personal brand (online/offline)
  • Improve personally and professionally
  • Develop future collaborations

 How to Network | 4 stages

First of all, you should start building your network as soon as possible. I mean, before you need it. Do not wait to be looking for a job before you build your network! This is a process that requires patience, consistency, investment, strategy, and intelligence. We have four stages that outline how to achieve a more organized and productive network.

  1. Analysis
  2. Preparation
  3. Development
  4. Maintenance

1.     Analysis

 

Analysis - how to network

In this first stage, to build a networking strategy, you have to know yourself well. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What do you like to do? Where do you want to go in your career?

·         Personal character

Networking, either offline or online, requires social skills. Evaluate what characteristics you do and do not have to find your niche within networking. For example, if you are shy, you can find resources that will help you build confidence. You can train yourself on the techniques to begin new conversations, and prepare for questions that might make you nervous.

·         Professional skills

What do you have to offer? At this point, you need to detail your knowledge and experiences. Are you specialized in any field? Why should they connect with you? Clarify everything that you can contribute to those who connect with you, whether they are clients, HR recruiters, or collaborators, etc.

2.     Preparation

Preparation - how to network

·         Identify your “targets”

Make a list of those people who, due to their profession, activity, or role, are strategic in reaching your goals. They can help you with a project, expand your business, help you find a job, etc. What are their hobbies? Do you have anything in common? Where did they go to school? Also, note the channels through which you can contact them, and most importantly, in what you ways you can benefit them. Remember that the essence of networking is giving and receiving.

·         Business cards

If you still do not have one or thought that they were already obsolete, you are mistaken! In my opinion, they are still a great way to quickly remember and exchange contact details. Invest time and money in achieving a card with an original design and quality material. A good card will capture their attention and increase your chances of staying in their memory. Lastly, make sure it has all the relevant and necessary information: who you are, what you do, and how to contact you. Don’t network in person without your business cards!

·         Elevator Pitch

The elevator pitch refers to introducing yourself to someone else in the time it takes to ride up an elevator. Develop a short, concise, and relevant speech that demonstrates what you do, what’s new with your company or service, and how the other person can benefit from your services or a relationship with you. You must practice it and adapt it to the interests of each person that you wish to connect with. Know how to spark interest with your elevator pitch and deliver your message quickly.

·         LinkedIn

As with business cards, if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, create one! It is the professional social network for networking par excellence. Your profile is your resume. So make sure you fill in each section and keep them updated. Having a presence on this professional social network will allow you to:

  • Contact the professionals and companies that are of interest to you (the ones you identified in your list above and new ones), which otherwise might be difficult.
  • Find out about the existence of events such as courses, seminars, conferences, etc.
  • Find and connect with employment opportunities, suppliers, clients, and employees.

·         Set goals and tasks

Define short, medium, and long-term goals. This will help you measure your progress over time. When you define them, use the SMART approach, that is, goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and within a Time frame. For example:

  • Increase your professional network by X% within one year.
  • Attend at least one networking event every other month.
  • Generate 2 quality contacts every week for the remainder of the year.

Then, record the necessary tasks to meet your defined objectives.

3.     Development

Development - how to network

You already have everything ready, you know whom you want to contact and what you can offer. Now we take action. Start connecting and building your professional network. Be clear from the beginning that you must have patience and consistency. Expanding your network will not be easy or fast. You should not despair but enjoy it. Remember the Chinese proverb: “Travel is as important as the destination.”

·         Online networking

Start establishing contact with your “targets”:

  • Follow them on social media and interact with their posts.
  • If they have a blog, comment on it, or look for any contribution you can make.
  • Join social media groups of your interest and profession. It is essential because you may know people who are helpful and that you did not have originally planned. Always network with an open mind.

·         Networking Offline

  • Attend all kinds of events that are relevant to your interests and where people you have defined can meet. Also, check the list of attendees and select “people of interest”. You can balance between making contact with people you have already defined in your list of “targets” with new ones that you can identify. Remember to prepare for the event before attending: research people, visit their website, blog, and social media profiles. This will help you to start or participate in conversations and, in case of question time, to formulate better questions.
  • A tip: It is imperative to define different goals you want to achieve for each event. If your aim is to get funding, identify from the list of participants who can help you. Then prepare questions or topics to start a conversation.
  • It is important that you focus on quality and not quantity. You should focus your time and strength on the people who could contribute something to you and deepen your relationship with them. Achieving a meaningful professional relationship with others requires effort and dedication.
  • At networking events, don’t be anxious to talk. Maintain fluid, two-way communication. Listen to others and ask follow-up questions. It is a mistake just to talk about yourself and your work. Make eye contact with each person you strike up a conversation with. Take your cards and have your elevator pitch well-rehearsed.
  • Create key notes on others’ cards. You may meet and exchange cards with many people, and when you get home, you may not remember what you talked about with each one. A trick would be to write down key notes about each person on the back of their card, such as what you can do for them, how they could help you, etc.

4.     Maintenance

maintaining - how to network

Finally, we must consolidate the efforts made in the previous phases. We cannot think that because we established relationships and conversations, everything is done. Generating contacts at events and social networks is only part of the job. Now it is time to cultivate them! It is important to show your contacts your interest in a natural and professional relationship. Have regular contact, invite them to a coffee or lunch, offer them any help they need, etc. Maintaining contact is “the cherry on the top” at this stage.

Some general tips on how to network

  • You must listen, pay attention, and be proactive. Participate in discussions, conversations and demonstrate the potential of your services, company, or yourself. But beware of looking desperate.
  • Have confidence and security in yourself and what you do. But don’t be overconfident, either.
  • Manage your time without being rude to others just as you respect theirs.
  • Always look for ways to add value and offer your help without expecting anything in return.
  • And again, enjoy it! Don’t just do it for an interest.

Where to network

Finally, we leave you some examples of places to expand your network of contacts.

It can be in your own company, with your colleagues, bosses or other workers. If you attend sports clubs, you can also take advantage of them. In meetings with friends and acquaintances. If you are a freelancer, digital nomad, remote employee, or entrepreneur who travels around the world working, the co-livings and co-working spaces are great places for networking. These sites promote the creation of a community among the members. All kinds of training and entertainment events are held for coworkers to interact with each other.

Final words

Networking is a fundamental activity in these times to achieve both professional and business growth. In such an interconnected world, it is a mistake to choose a path and walk it like the lone ranger. This significance inspired us to write this article on how to network, and we hope that the content has been useful to you! If you are not yet networking, our recommendation is that you start as soon as possible. If you are already doing it, tell us, are you doing it well? Do you have any particular strategy?

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