Many of life’s failures are people who did not realised how close they were to success when they gave up.
Ever envied another person for their connections, whatever the industry? Chances are they’ve put a lot of time and effort into building that flourishing professional network you covet!
In today’s competitive business environment, the power of networking cannot be emphasised enough. When an opportunity arises, you want to be the first choice in a colleague’s mind — or at least on the short-list.
If you find professional networking a little daunting, my five key tips can help.
1. Quality communication
Business relationships are impacted by first impressions. Do you remember names, display an engaging demeanour, and engage in conversation easily? In terms of future opportunities, people generally choose to work with those who create a positive impression.
Choice of conversation topics is important, but keep in mind professional networking is not a presentation. Take the time to listen as well.
Quality non-verbal communication is also vital. Be aware of body language. Maintain eye contact and avoid unconscious indicators of boredom or disinterest such as yawning, fidgeting, and that old chestnut, constantly glancing at your mobile phone.
2. Be aware of opportunities
Anyone can become a great connection, so never adopt a dismissive attitude. Be consistently polite. People are promoted and can change departments or companies. A negative first impression may prove damaging down the road.
3. The social factor
Social engagement, a time-honoured aspect of professional networking, has the potential to return dividends. Lunches/dinners are prime opportunities for quality interaction. Volunteer to attend industry events, and network internally as well as externally.
Connections within the company are important. Instead of eating lunch with the same people every day, step outside your comfort zone and approach someone new.
4. Effective time management
A common mistake when creating a professional network is to over-invest in connections with minimal strategic benefits. Research conducted by Business Networking Academy shows 75% of business people admit existing networks do not support the results they require.
Are you focusing on people likely to help make short-term and/or long-term goals a reality? If not, take a step back, evaluate, and devise a new strategy. Keep in mind the best business relationships are often reciprocal. Everyone wants to feel their time is being well spent.
5. Maintain your connections
Making a professional connection is only the beginning. Next comes developing a business relationship. Aim to be memorable in a consistently positive way.
Social media, email, phone calls or meetings help you stay connected, but people prefer different levels of engagement, and understanding this is key to maintaining healthy networking relationships.
Building a strong professional network can deliver positive and far-reaching benefits for your career. Need some help? Our professional networking workshops can equip you with networking methodologies that work for you. Enrol today.
Julia Palmer, a respected Networking Strategist and Chief Executive of the Business Networking Academy, presenting and training on how to create and manage networks that work. To learn more visit www.juliapalmer.com & www.BusinessNetworkingAcademy.com.au