Many associate networking with awkward attempts to start or keep a conversation alive. If you have had bad experiences or are simply looking for some best practices, we are happy to share our online & offline networking tips with you.
Why is a network so important? It defines who you surround yourself with. Which in turn, can influence your growth and development. People can inspire, uplift or question your ideas – all important aspects of networking. As we increase collaboration, driven from being remote and globally connected, relationships become essential for success. Whatever you do, there is a great chance there is someone out there who can support or help you achieve your goals.
The beauty of the law of authenticity is in its simplicity: Don’t try, just be. (“The 11 Laws of Likability”)
Communication skills – Online & Offline
How to do it:
- Focus on what you can do, instead of what you can’t: Be confident when networking and don’t be afraid to voice your opinion or share your knowledge. If you don’t know the answer to a question, you can simply state so or think of ideas on how you would tackle the situation. Sometimes people are just interested in finding out the way you would go to answer the question, not necessarily analyzing your exact answer. When presenting yourself, think about the Why behind everything: why does it matter?
- Asking questions to sustain a good conversation: Genuine interest: job, industry, accomplishments, projects, hobbies or opinions. Avoid “yes/no” questions and ask open ended questions.
- Good listening skills: You can reply to a statement:
– Emphasizing mutual interest to what they said – ex. Me too. I like XYZ
– Focusing on the person’s interest/perspectives, asking why regarding their statement – ex. Why do you think XYZ?
– Uncovering how they said it, stating something you noticed in the body language/expression to their statement – ex. You seem excited about XYZ, what are you planning in the future?
Thought-Leaders & Communities Online
How to do it:
- Finding thought-leaders in your industry/career: This can be a private person but also a cool company page. Follow them and engage with their content over time, whether through likes, comments or shares.
- Joining communities: Whether online & offline networking events, you can join various communities. Check out slack channels, facebook groups, LinkedIn groups and more (join the ones you find relevant). They will also share events and webinars coming up, for you to join.
Networking & Providing Value – Online & Offline
How to do it:
- Being proactive: Going to conferences (or joining webinars), sending connection requests through social media, sharing your knowledge with others, asking for recommendations, and helping others out. If you go to an event, look out for people who aren’t already in a discussion and introduce yourself. They will appreciate that you are talking with them.
- A Network mix: Although it can be easier to start off with a niche, consider networking with various people in different industries and positions. Reflect about what you want and connect with people strategically. This doesn’t mean sending out a connection request: “Hey XYZ, I want to connect and grow my network with you.” – it means, providing value before asking something in return. “Hey XYZ, I noticed you could improve X through Y, happy to connect.”
- Provide value / Share great content (or respond to #help posts): Don’t make the mistake of “selling” from the start. Always give first. Many people look for advice online and offline. Especially on social media within specific groups, questions are being asked. You can provide your advice and help others out. It is important to give when building networks. When speaking to people, ask yourself: How can I help?
- Remember to follow up: So much is happening and people are busy. A follow-up is essential to maintain a relationship. If there is nothing specific you can follow-up about, remember there are events you can use to do so. You can reach out during birthdays, or congratulate on special occasions (new funding, new position, achievements shared).
- Becoming memorable: Stories are powerful ways to be remembered, as they connect to emotions. Think about things you experienced and the stories that can back up your statements.
We hope you find our tips and best practices helpful.
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