Networking – a dreaded term that brings up images of uncomfortable mixers where you nervously try to impress uninterested strangers. But, while networking does involve putting yourself in situations you might otherwise avoid, the process is also the lifeblood of business. BH Careers International indicates more than half of the jobs employees get are through networking.
Since the process is unavoidable, you must discover how to make networking more enjoyable and interesting. If you adapt networking to your lifestyle, you can make it less burdensome and maybe even come to enjoy it.
3 Ways to make networking your own
Joining and doing work for an organization in your field is an excellent way to make natural contacts. Trying to connect with someone over the course of a single conversation is forcing it — it is far better to establish a relationship over time. Volunteering is a good way to do this. You will be around people in your field, and will get a very good idea of whom you want to work with, and who you do not.
One of the great things about volunteer opportunities is that typically, they need you. This means you can pick a job or position that interests you and that you might be good at.
Own the responsibility
Flitting around a crowded room handing out your business card is an ineffective way to network. But that doesn’t mean business cards are obsolete. Far from it actually, as they offer a concrete representation of you to new acquaintances. They are an affordable way to make a good first impression. If your budget is tight, you can often spend less by going online for a mass produced solution.
Andy Ellwood recently discussed on Forbes how he only carries one business card, and how he gives it out to the first person he meets.
Waiting and hoping for someone to contact you is stressful and inefficient. In contrast, by taking contact information and making the call yourself, you can be more proactive and illustrate your follow through. It may take a little courage to reach out initially, but it saves you time and makes you look stronger to others.this so he is forced to get other people’s contact info, putting the ball in his court. This is an effective idea to jump start building a deeper connection after your initial meeting.
Think long term
When you make networking a part of your overall approach to your career or business, keep in mind that it is a long-term game. While it is possible that a hard push at making contacts will yield some sort of dramatic result, the reality is that you never really know where a break will come from.
Good networking is really a matter of what you can bring to the table, rather than what another person can do for you. As you grow in your position, gain new skills and foster relationships, you will eventually have more to offer.
Networking is something that you do in small doses everyday, and is especially effective when you put yourself in a position to rub shoulders with important people regularly — hence why volunteering is so useful.
Keep at it
You can make networking part of your business lifestyle in a way that works for you. By focusing on keeping it natural and realistic, and keeping your long-term goals in mind, networking can be both more effective and more enjoyable.