Networking is the act of building and cultivating your personal and professional relationships so you can help others and seek help from others.
Some people don’t know where to start when it comes to networking, and others have had discouraging results so they’re cautious about trying again.
If you want to build stronger relationships and network with more ease and success, here are five tips we’ve compiled to help you:
1. Are you shy and a bit introverted? Find someone shyer than you.
If you feel uncomfortable approaching a stranger at a networking event, consider that there are probably many others in the room who feel exactly the same way. As a self-proclaimed wallflower, writer Jeff Haden shares how he learned to make this easier.
“If it's awkward to make small talk,” he offers, “use those feelings in a positive way. Turn sympathy for yourself into empathy for another. Go rescue someone.”
Read: Hate Making Small Talk? One Approach ANYONE Can Use.
2. Be remembered for all the right reasons.
Once you find someone to talk to and break the ice, how do you make the best possible impression? An article at The Muse offers science-backed conversation strategies for being the most popular person in the room.
For example, one research study found that self-disclosure creates positive reactions in the person talking about themselves. Asking someone a specific question, e.g., “What was the highlight of your week?” gives the person a chance to open up and bask in those good feelings, and they’ll feel good about you as a result.
Read: 6 Strategies That Guarantee People Will Remember Meeting You.
3. Take your networking beyond the events.
What can an NFL quarterback teach you about networking? Plenty, as it turns out!
Mike Kafka started an active lifestyle company to market a hand pouch he invented. Since then, Roo Outdoor has grown to many products and Kafka says networking has been central to his success.
It’s not just about making connections, he says, it’s about strategically cultivating those relationships. He provides five practical tips with a clear rationale for each suggestion, along with examples from his own experience.
“If you tell someone that you are going to reach out to him or her,” he writes, “do it. This will reiterate your commitment to the connection and allow for easier transitions into future conversations.”
Read: 5 Ways to Maximize Your Personal Network.
4. Experience the power of deeper networking.
To take your networking to the next level, look for ways to build deeper connections and create meaningful links between the people you know.
Marketing strategist Dorie Clark does this by hosting networking dinners, a practice she’s learned from author Keith Ferrazzi and Canadian entrepreneur Scott Oldford.
“In an era of the quick-hit coffee,” she notes, “having the opportunity to linger with contacts for two or three hours is a powerful way to get to know them and build meaningful relationships.”
Read: How to Host an Incredible Networking Dinner.
5. Check your networking blind spots.
In an article for Forbes, career coach Caroline Ceniza-Levine identifies five mistakes networkers inadvertently make, usually in an effort to save time, cut corners, be polite, or stay in your comfort zone.
Not following up when someone gives you an introduction, for example, stops the communication and will make it much harder to reach out when you need more help in the future.
Read: Five Networking Mistakes You Don't Mean To Make But Probably Do.