. LEARNING HOW TO NETWORK .
Networking is a critical part of business & these days, blogging. It’s not something I actively think about or seek to do, but being able to network and meet new people, build relationships & work well together is something that we all need to master whether it’s a natural talent or something you work on to get better at.
For me networking should be a natural thing that occurs as part of your working, blogging or social life … but I appreciate for everyone it’s not easy & that sometimes it can be difficult. Given the importance of networking I thought i’d share 5 easy ways you can start to network, start to network a little more effectively or generally just inspire you to try something new.
These tips and ideas are of course in no way exclusive, but they’re 5 of the top things I think can be really beneficial.
#1. ATTEND EVENTS
First of all, to network you really need to meet people, and in an ideal work this would be natural and relevant as opposed to some ‘blind data’ type meeting. Of course meeting people is the crux of networking and can be quite difficult to achieve if you’re always mixing with your same network, colleagues and friends, but one easy way to broaden your horizon and also increase the chance of meeting new people is to attend more events, whether that be industry conferences, company drinks or even training courses. By attending more events, signing up to relevant forums or newsletters and simply putting yourself forward to attend more conferences is a really easy way to naturally broaden your network, meet new people & build a stronger network.
Whilst this is a career tips post, this of course also still applies to lots of areas in your life. From your social and friend network (attending parties, taking up a hobby, joining a course etc) to blogging too (attending PR events, joining blog chats on social media and simply starting conversations with like minded bloggers).
#2. KEEP PROFESSIONAL
The most important thing to remember when you’re networking is that you must maintain professional. Sometimes if the vibe or the occasion is relaxed, it’s easy to forget where you are, who you’re talking to and the importance of that first impression. Try to always maintain a professional edge, relax and enjoy yourself but just be conscious of what you’re saying, and to who, and of course how much you’re drinking …
#3. TRAIN UP
Much like attending events, attending training courses or sessions is another great way of getting the opportunity to meet new people, but also expand your skill set and knowledge, again broadening your opportunity to meet new people perhaps outside your core work discipline. Having a broad network can of course provide a greater opportunity for your development and career in the future.
#4. GET A BUSINESS CARD
It sounds like a very simple point, but of course having a business card which you can share with people you’ve met and might like to keep in contact with is obviously very helpful. Not every business gives employees a card, but where possible request a set of business cards with your key business information detailed so that people can easily get in contact with you after you’ve met.
This tip of course also applies to bloggers, I for one am seriously behind and need to get myself a set of business cards, but for bloggers its a really great way of sharing your blog & allowing brands, other bloggers or PR’s to get in contact with you after you’ve met them at an event or party.
There’s loads of very easy ways to make a business card, whether thats a do it yourself job or a paid for business card provider. Often they’re quite reasonably priced and can make all the difference.
#5. MAKE AN EFFORT
My final tip is another tip which I should probably listen to as well, but making an effort is really important when networking. It’s very easy to attend an event, meet lots of people and then never speak to anyone again. Really this is counterproductive, and it’s always worth remembering it does take two people to build a relationship, so my final tip is to of course make some effort. Make the effort to send an email, make an effort to meet up with people you’ve met and get on well with, make an effort to go and talk to a group of people at an event and make an effort to attend new events and conferences.
Juggling work and blogging I find myself always having to decline blog events and parties due to work commitments and business, but this is something that I really need to change and this year especially i’ve promised myself to make more of an effort to attend PR days, make it to events and generally build better relationships with my PR network etc.
Dedicating a bit of time and effort to ‘making an effort’ can really make a lot of difference when networking.
My final bit of advice is to just be confident, remember everyone is in the same shoes, everyone is a little shy when meeting new people and of course no one really likes to put themselves out there and feel exposed. But just tap yourself on the back and give yourself a little encouragement … be confident.
So there you have it, 5 very simple tips and pieces of advice that can really help with networking, they’re not super difficult to achieve, but combined should really help you start or better network.
I’d love to know if you’ve found these helpful or if you have any other tips which you think help then make sure you leave a comment below :)