Do you know someone who landed a job because they knew someone that already worked at that company? Did you grumble that it wasn’t fair or that they should have had to go through the same laborious process as everyone else?
Sounds like a little sour grapes to me. But there is a secret…
The secret is networking.
Knowing people and having connections is imperative to your success. The concept related to the “Six Degrees of Separation Theory” is very relevant to showing how humans naturally network in their everyday lives.
I have put together a list of seven tips to help you network successfully.
1) Keep building on that relationship.
It is not very effective to meet someone and begin a professional relationship with that person if you have no intention of keeping in contact with them. The purpose of networks is to help each other in different situations; that is not possible when you lose contact. Have you ever heard the phrase “Out of sight; out of mind”? Keeping in contact with your networks and building on those relationships helps to insure that both parties will be there when the other needs some type of support from the relationship.
2) Give more than you take.
I am sure that at some point in your life, you have had a friend that is always taking from everyone around them and never gives anything in return.
You know exactly who I am talking about… I’m sure you have had that friend that calls you constantly to complain about their “big dilemma” of the week. Being the positive friend that you are, you talk through the problem of whether they should wear the green dress or the purple dress to the party this weekend, but then they rush off the phone before you get to tell them the good news that you are getting married! They never take the time to inquire about what’s going on with you. How frustrating!
Those types of friendships are draining and usually don’t last. Don’t be that type of networker! Networking is not just about what everyone else can do for you. It is in your best interest to be the person who gives more, because people will be more likely to help you when you need to take a little down the road.
3) Professionalism is key!
In order to form a professional network that works for you, it is crucial to keep it separate from your personal network as much as possible. You want to be known throughout the community and with your client base as responsible and trustworthy in order to build a positive reputation.
You may also like to go out with your friends for drinks on a Saturday night. In general, people do not link alcohol to responsibility and trustworthiness. It is very important to draw the line and keep these two networks separate from each other in order for your personal network to not have a negative impact on your professional network.
4) Focus on what you have to offer others.
Along the lines of giving more than you take, it is important for you to focus on what you have to offer others in your network. If you have a lot to offer, people will begin to recognize you as the sought-after “go-to” person. They will begin to ask for your advice and rely on you. This can also help get your name and positive reputation out there… Sounds to me like free advertising!
5) Go out of your comfort zone—Talk to people everywhere!
You never know who you will meet when you just start talking to people. Think about this tip the next time you are standing in line at the grocery store. Instead of being frustrated or annoyed because the lines are so long and you are in a rush, start a conversation with the person in front of you or behind you. You never know what may come of it. They may just be a nice person to talk to while waiting in line at the grocery store, or they may be your next customer… Who knows?!
6) Be open to meeting new people and hearing their story.
Just talking to a new person may not be enough. In order to really get to know someone and add them to your network, you must be willing to hear their story. Everyone has had different experiences. In fact, I remember hearing a saying that goes something like “Learn from other’s mistakes because you will never live long enough to make them all yourself.”
This saying can also go the other way—you can also learn from other’s success stories. So learn how to ask a lot of questions and be genuinely interested in the answers. They will actually think that you are the most fascinating person they’ve met, because even though they did most of the talking, they’ll subconsciously be “falling in love” with you because you’re actually listening to them, and not interrupting them and not trying to one-up them like everyone else that they have a conversation with. They’ll find it refreshing and you completely loveable, even though they might not even recognize why they feel that way about you.
7) Find common interests.
It’s not very effective to start a conversation with someone you just met by asking for something. In fact, that person will probably not even be interested in getting to know you. Your best bet is to try to find common interests to build a foundation for your relationship with that person.
Being genuine in wanting to get to know the other person allows you to form a relationship and be memorable to that person. And again, the easiest way to find common ground is to ask them questions about things that you are genuinely interested in. So the weather or their family or something on their desk or mantelpiece may not be the best topic of conversation if you don’t actually care about listening to them talk about that. Even though you asked, your disinterest will definitely show.
With that being said, being memorable and standing out (in a good way, of course) is one of the major reasons why it’s important to network successfully. It’s important to get your name out there with a positive reputation to back it up, but it’s even more important that people REMEMBER YOU!!