Networking is perhaps the most important part of any profession. As years have gone by, the methods have evolved. Yet, the essence of the task remains. To successfully market anything—be it your business, your pitch, or yourself—you need to network. After all, success has always been defined by attention. If you attract a lot of social attention, you become popular. Then, being in your company becomes a badge of honor. Similarly, if your brand gets attention, then more and more people want to associate with it.
But it’s not so simple to reach that point. Networking is not as easy as buying a Spectrum internet package and spending your days sending everyone friend requests. However, there are many ways you can utilize the internet to smartly connect with other people and businesses. Additionally, you have to keep some basics in mind whether you are networking through social media or in person.
#1 Remember Why You’re Networking
Before you go on to be a networking expert, you need to ground yourself. Some of the reasons to network are obvious; it helps you find partners, customers, and clients. However, there is more to networking. Learn the difference between marketing and networking. Of course, the latter can lead to the former, but it’s not bound to it.
Confused? Well, no one likes someone who is self-obsessed. So, when you network, it should not be blatant that you’re simply there to get something. Instead, focus on giving. Offer others things of value. Whether it’s guidance, a contact, an invitation to meet, or a light conversation. If you do this, others will remember you as a good person to be around. And you are networking for just that.
#2 Pay Attention
During any social interaction you are part of, pay attention to the other side. If you are talking to a potential business contact, you need to convey that you value them. Hence, focus on what they are talking about and try to remember it. Not only will you collect vital information, but you’ll also know how to respond. This will ensure you can carry the conversation forward. Also, you’ll get a decent idea of what sort of person you’re dealing with. This will help you decide if you are suited to working together in the future.
Moreover, people appreciate it when you pay them attention. When they feel valued, they form a positive connection with you. Hence, they are more likely to stay in touch with you.
#3 Make Yourself Visible
While it is good to let others take up space, it should not be at the expense of your own. So, you need to stay visible. Even if you are enquiring others about their work, don’t forget to speak about yours.
Also, ensure there are never any doubts about who you are. For this, always introduce yourself thoroughly. If you have a 30-second elevator pitch, this is the time to use it. Don’t be obnoxious, but also don’t undersell yourself. So, share any information that strengthens your profile: your workplace, your alma mater, or any special project. Moreover, be generous with giving out business cards. You should have a well-designed card that includes your name, job title, and contact information, as well as a link to your work.
#4 Have an Online Presence
These days, everyone uses the internet to look up or “stalk” potential connections. If they do this in their personal life, rest assured that they do it professionally too. In fact, the stakes are much higher when it comes to business. That’s why it’s always a good idea to carry out background research before entering into a partnership.
Therefore, control what information shows up when someone looks you up online. Having a personal website or portfolio is always a good idea. It’s usually the first search result, and it displays all relevant information. This includes work samples, contact information, and social media links. Also, have a professional and active presence on all major networking platforms. For instance, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
#5 Value Old Connections
In searching for new contacts, don’t leave the old ones behind. The friends and acquaintances you have collected through school, work, or past events will always be an asset.
Therefore, don’t let old connections die out. Schedule regular meetings and phone calls, and keep in touch over social media. Also, if you’re around for them, they’ll be around for you.