Whether you are a budding entrepreneur, a young executive in an MNC, a corporate trainer or a self-employed professional, it is important to be connected to individuals with congruent professional goals or similar sphere. In short, the ecosystem wherein you are surrounded by people who can contribute to your career and vice-versa. Networking has gained momentum as a new age term but has existed since long. However, networking is an art. If done strategically, it can lead you to the right avenues for a successful career.
Here are few ways that can strengthen your networking skills:
1. Ascertain your reasons for networking
Firstly, you need to identify why you want to network in the first place. Is it for enhancing your profile, is it for finding new clients, it is for connecting with like-minded people and sharing knowledge, is it for searching investors, or is it for publicizing your venture. Once you are clear about your goals, you can find the right approach. Ascertaining your networking goals will save you from wastage of efforts and a haphazard approach.
2. Identify your best prospects:
It might be addictive to add more and more people to your LinkedIn profile or increase your acquaintances in a meeting, but you do need to be a lot selective about it. You need to identify who are the ones you are closely related to your profile or your chosen area of interest so that you can accomplish a goal. This way you know exactly what is happening in your industry by connecting with them and conversing with them about their professional lives. The right connections can turn into your funders, clients, business partners or associates who can give you good leads about the next job opening. If your list of connections is from varied fields it just adds to the clutter and gives you no direction for professional betterment. So choose wisely.
3. Know where to meet them
Social media has made our lives a lot simpler and there is no doubt about it. Adding connections to your profile or liking a business page and following it is just so simple. However, you need to expand your horizons. As they say, success is all about being at the right place at the right time. So go out and meet new people from your professional circle. Attend investor meets, analyst meets, conferences, trade shows, exhibitions, alumni meets, get membership of your local chamber of commerce. When you are targeting niche markets, this is the best way to establish associations and get referrals. This also shows your proactiveness and helps you to know your industry participants in a more pragmatic way.
4. Opt for the hub and spoke approach
While networking it is always best to be on the lookout for who is the hub or central person of a bigger network. Once you establish good connections with the hub, you can easily get connected to others on his network easily who are like spokes of a wheel. This is called the Hub and Spoke approach. Many a time, you may be targeting a particular individual who is one of the Spokes but didn’t know how. By getting connected to the central person of the larger network, you can establish that connection easily.
5. Sharing your knowledge
Networking can achieve its true potential if knowledge is shared across the network. By sharing your knowledge you can show your expertise on a certain subject and also gain valuable insights from the knowledge of those in your network. You can also use your connections to seek advice on important areas of your professional lives. This is the best way to get acquainted with the true worth of the people in your network.
6. Make your relationship grow
We take a lot of attempts to establish connections but we forget to nurture them. Like all relationships, professional relationships also need to be worked upon. So you need to keep in touch on a regular basis, but keep the interactions formal. A phone call, regular emails, a meeting over coffee are some of the ways to stay in touch. If you can help someone professionally or make a small contribution to their careers, nothing like it. However, it also depends a lot on who wants to stay in touch with you. If someone doesn’t respond much, respect the same and keep your distance. However, make sure to congratulate them on their professional achievements.
Networking is definitely an important gateway to a successful career. However, you need to strategize well else you will achieve the purpose that you started out with. For those entrepreneurs or individuals who have limited resources to market their skills or ventures, networking is the best way. So put yourself out there, follow these simple tips and connect with the most influential professionals in your arena.