Regardless of your industry, cultivating a strong, expansive professional network is key. Meeting new professionals in various fields can be challenging, and it is imperative that, when looking to grow your network, you are keen on developing real connections with others. It is strong relationships built on trust, respect, and communication that will serve you well in your personal and professional life, after all.
Have the Right Attitude
For those with minimal networking experience, making connections with other professionals can seem like a daunting task. However, starting with the right attitude can improve your approach and your chances of success. Contrary to what some may believe, you do not need to be particularly outgoing to effectively network. All it takes is some genuine interest in another individual’s industry, role, or passions to carry a conversation. Approaching a networking opportunity with an open mind is key; even if you do not know much about a particular subject, showing genuine interest in what another individual has to say will be productive in building a strong relationship.
Capitalize on Social Media
Many of us are engaged in busy lifestyles that leave us little time to attend networking events. Fortunately, there are a number of opportunities that are available to individuals who cannot physically work on expanding their networks. Social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn are remarkably effective when it comes to connecting with others. Naturally, you should use these sites to initiate contact and stay in touch, but it is advised that, when possible, you also engage with these professionals in person to solidify your relationship and demonstrate your enthusiasm.
Understand Your Networking Goals
As with most things in life, quality is often better than quantity. In other words, expanding your network for the sake of growing the number of connections you have is usually a foolhardy approach. Instead of aiming to collect business cards, you should consider what it is you want out of your network. Are you looking to gain early access to new professional opportunities? Do you want to learn more about a specific industry? Whatever your goal is, tailor your networking approach to a central idea to ensure there is something substantial behind your networking initiative.