Desperately Seeking Support for Network Building
The idea of ‘networking’ makes extroverts gleam and introverts scream. Schmoozing and ‘working the room’ may be natural behaviours for some, but for others it can often be an overwhelming and underproductive experience. However, if done effectively, networking can expand your sphere of influence and build your personal brand. For those desperately seeking support, here’s some tips that I have learned over the years:
Professional networking is more about giving than receiving, so determine your strengths and be prepared to share this knowledge and experience with others. Think about your brand and what makes you a superstar. If you talk about something that you are passionate about, you will come across sincerely and naturally.
Do Your Research
Whether it’s a virtual or in-person networking event, research the participants ahead of time. Make a list of who you may like to connect with and think about how your strengths, knowledge and experiences may be of assistance to them.
The Meet and Greet
Some can dive right in and start a conversation with strangers, while others may need a bit of coaching. Scan nametags for people on your research list or look for businesses or organizations that you feel comfortable conversing about. If a large event sounds too daunting, invite a networking buddy, but be sure to branch off and meet new people. Think quality connections, not quantity.
Don’t just save your networking skills for formal business events, look for opportunities at team meetings and social functions. Make a pact with yourself to share and offer your skills and experiences with a co-worker and/or meet someone new.
Keep in Touch
Professional networking is more than just meeting people, it’s about making meaningful connections. You might keep in touch over coffee or at other business functions, but with COVID-19 restrictions, we’ll all need to rely on phone calls, email, and social media for the next 6 – 12 months. If you are uncomfortable chatting on the phone or writing emails, you can easily re-connect by commenting on one of their posts or send them a link to an article that you think would interest them. Again, quality connections, not quantity.
By giving your time, offering your insight, and sharing knowledge, your network will naturally reciprocate by preaching your value to others thus increasing your brand reputation. Keep the faith.