Networking is a popular tool used by individuals and corporations to achieve their objectives. In looking for a job, a partnership, or clientele, networking has been proven to be of advantage. Say for instance that you already have an existing networking circle or your circle of valuable connections. How then could you use it for your own gain? It would be a source of frustration when we aren’t able to use our networking circle to work for us. It’s least expensive to build and maintain. It, too, is efficient. So what hinders us from maximizing this tool to prosper our careers and our businesses? In this article, I’ll walk you through some of the most basic strategies on how to make our connections work in line with our goals.
1. Look for mutual interests.
Networking is about relationships with people we see valuable to our interests. One of the most effective ways to establish a constructive networking circle is selecting or filtering your contact list for the crucial few who you see share the same interests with you. If you are looking for a job, check in on your co-interns, classmates from the university, professors, practitioners, and friends of friends who work in the industry you want to enter. Because you have common interest, you can find it easy to strike a conversation. For instance, you can share a recent article which concerns the industry they’re in and use it to help you talk to them about finding a job opportunity. Similarly, if you are an entrepreneur looking for new clients or referrals, it would be wise to check in on your previous customers as they, for sure, know people who are looking at the same products or services. After all, they call it a “networking circle” because the process resembles a cycle of people forming new connections from existing ones.
2. Use the proper venue.
We have offline and online connections. In fact, we also connect online with most of our offline networking circle. With this, we have to look for a proper venue to relate to our people network. As a business coach, I understand the significance of social media to today’s generation. But all these social networking sites (SNS) cater to various purposes and audiences, which many fail to realize. I would recommend using LinkedIn for personal and professional networking as it is primarily created for such purposes. From time to time, you could send a congratulatory message to your newly promoted connections or share some resources, which (going back to the first strategy) prove to be of interest to them. Quora, on the other hand, could be the venue for those who seek to share their expertise and improve social presence. Through commenting on people’s posts, you could be able to land valuable connections. In the same way, Twitter could be a useful social media site because of its “following” feature which has the potential for you to interact with your prospects. Facebook and Instagram, on the other hand, are for businesses that wish to promote through images, posts, and a huge networking circle. Nevertheless, quintessential personal interactions haven’t yet lose their effectiveness.
3. Follow up with respect.
Probably one of the most valuable lesson I learned as an executive coach, who frequently discusses business strategies with corporate leaders, is the huge importance of following up. Of course you don’t have to do follow ups on a daily basis as it tends to be annoying rather than helpful. But following up entails respect for the person. We can’t demand that they immediately address our request because they, too, have their individual targets. We can send simple check-in messages like “great to meet you” or “it is my pleasure to connect with you”. We can also provide a counter-offer if we need them to get back to us the soonest possible time. In essence, all it takes is some charm coupled with honest respect.
4. Seek advice.
Another effective strategy to get our networking circle interact with us is to seek their advice. Filipinos don’t usually take requests for help for granted. So, to strike a conversation, you can ask for some insight about the industry they’re in or inquire about their services and what they still need. This way, you will be able to make them aware of your presence and your goals. So when a vacancy, client, or possible opportunity that is parallel with your brand comes up, you would be on top of their mind.
Networking works in ways that some people are too impatient to understand. What they fail to realize is that this tool does wonders for every business or professional if only one knows how to use it effectively. Once you get the hang of it, it would be an easy task you’d be glad you have invested time and effort in.
This is Joey Gurango, your Business Technology Coach!