Networking is a crucial component to optimizing your professional life and pushing your career forward. Meeting people in your field or intersecting industries means new friends, new contacts, new business and new resources. There is no limit to the insight and support that can come from networking. However, learning how to network well takes a little bit of effort and some strategy, especially when you’re just starting off.
How to network effectively
1. Make an authentic approach
Instead of simply adding someone on LinkedIn or extending an invitation to “pick someone’s brain”, find specific professionals that interest you and then figure out a genuine way to reach out to them. Study them and do your research about their current projects and how they’ve found success. Use that information in your email or message. Give some detail when you explain what you appreciate about their career so that they can clearly see why you’re interested in them and how meeting with you would be worth a small amount of their time.
2. Set yourself apart in a strategic way
Know yourself and know what interests those around you – especially people in your industry. Don’t pick up hobbies just for the sake of rubbing elbows, but develop your own variety of skills, knowledge and interests to add into the mix. Become someone of interest to people who are further along in their careers so that they are genuinely curious about you and more invested in dedicating some of their time to you.
3. Develop an expertise
Being the best at something is a great way to draw in a network of people. You will have just as much to offer those around you, who are more advanced in their career than you are, by becoming a connoisseur. This expertise can even be outside of your professional life. If you’re the office expert on Asian fusion cuisine in your area, you just may get high-powered professionals coming to you for recommendations if you play your cards right.
4. Create situations to connect
Being a host can put you under a lot of pressure. However, these high-pressure situations pay off. Hosting an event is a great way to invite important influencers to share with one another – and you. Obviously, starting out you’re not going to invite the CEO to your home. But if you plan an office event at a new nearby restaurant or even at the office, you will be responsible for bringing lots of professionals together – you’ll become the center of the network.
5. Be memorable
Bring your enthusiasm and your own personal style to the table whenever you’re in a professional setting, while still maintaining the level of professionalism in the office. Attend company events with a positive and fun attitude. Participate enthusiastically in team-building exercises. After your latest international trip, bring in some candies to share with the team. Basically, take advantage of opportunities to connect with others and leave a positive impression on your colleagues.
6. Be kind
Being genuinely nice doesn’t mean that you’re a pushover or less of a professional – it just means that you are pleasant to work with. Being respectful and kind in the office will make people naturally drawn to you. That way, when you do need to ask a favor one day, it won’t be a problem because you’re the kind of person that your colleagues want to help out.
Photo 1. by The Intern Group
Photo 3. by The Intern Group