Networking: It’s almost cliche that “to succeed in your career, you need a strong network”. Everyone is talking about it, but how to do it the right way? Many believe that networking means just calling all their contacts and asking them for a job for job seekers.
What is Networking?
However, networking is defined as building up and remaining one’s contact network, sharing knowledge, helping each other out, and eventually gaining benefits for your professional career. It can be an excellent opportunity for everyone to share their professional achievements and connect with people with the same career goals or values. Recent studies point out that many employees are hired through networking rather than regular job postings.
But how do you become a Professional Networker? What are the main rules? If you follow our seven networking basics below, you will get a master in connecting with people for sure!
Rule No. 1: Meet new people through old contacts
The easiest way to connect with new people is through your current contacts. If your connections can introduce you to others, you will get a warm welcome for sure, which makes further communications way easier. That is why you should always stick with someone you meet at a networking event if he/she knows others you would like to get connected to.
Note that building a connection is a two-way street; what you give, you get. You must also try to connect people you know to each other – sharing is caring. Your willingness to share contacts will further encourage others to help you broaden your network.
Rule No. 2: Connect through social media
The second way to connect with new people is social media, where you don’t have the pressure to directly meet someone face-to-face. Use LinkedIn or Twitter, for example, to seek contacts with the same values or career goals. As a tip, you should try to make the first contact through a reaction of a post of them or comment it. It’s easier for some people to connect through the internet first, so you can find out some possible conversation topics before meeting in person. However, personal meetings are always the best way to maintain new and old connections.
Rule No. 3: Provide a good communication experience
This doesn’t mean you should speak frequently. On the contrary, the key to a pleasant communication experience is listening carefully to what others say. Make sure to let them answer your questions or give you council. Maybe they also seek advice, so give them the chance to speak up. Letting others speak more than you do will generate a good conversation atmosphere for the counterpart. You will then get the opportunity to gain a lot of information about the person, making it easier to follow up. Moreover, try to ask some insightful questions fitting to their previous story or answer to show your interest in their experience and person.
Rule No. 4: Find out your contacts desire during a network session
The best way to initiate a conversation is through professional similarities and by sharing knowledge without expecting anything in return. It would help if you tried to focus on finding out the other’s expectations and concerns through the first meeting. Even if you think that a successful person doesn’t need anything, that’s not true. It’s most likely that you can find out something you can offer to him/ her. However, during the first conversation, advice should only be given to others after asking for it.
Rule No. 5: Be a 师傅（Shifu) of business cards
Especially when networking in China, the exchange of business cards is an essential point of getting to know others. Be sure you always have your card with you and within reach. There’s nothing more awkward than searching 5 minutes in your bag for your card or losing your contact’s business card. In the Chinese culture, the process of giving away your card and accepting one has a long tradition. Be sure your card is always clean and facing the contact so that he/she can read it. Only exchange the cards one-by-one and still give it away and accept it with both hands, which is a gesture of respect.
Rule No. 6: Follow up on your contacts for effective networking
Networking isn’t finished after the first meeting with your new contacts. After your first meeting, it is always good to follow up on social media like LinkedIn. However, don’t just send away a friend request; it is better to include a short message about the meeting with him/ her. If you want to have a long-lasting connection with them, you should always try to reach out three times a year! Did you found an interesting article? Remember some questions you couldn’t answer in your conversation, but now you can? Just hit them up. Please share your thoughts on it and ask for their opinion.
Rule No. 7: Keep your professional online profile up to date
Social media platforms like LinkedIn are not only useful to get new contacts and stay connected with them, but it is also an opportunity to remain relevant. Be sure you always add newly learned skills and share your professional achievements with your community. Nowadays, there are many recruiters out there who hire new employees through online platforms, so always have your social media profile up to date and be active.
Networking is a continuous process that requires willpower, social skills, management, and motivation to create value for yourself and others. If you can master the networking basics, your job search can get way easier. One important thing to consider is that networking is not about having a high quantity of people in your network but figuring out through which of your connection you can generate value and, of course, which contacts are genuinely interested in keeping in touch with you. Having a high-quality network can generate new opportunities in your job hunt, which you would not have without it. As we all know, a bit of vitamin-B can help everyone to succeed 🙂
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