Making Meaningful Business Connections Through Networking
Networking is an important skill that most professionals know they should have, but are not well-versed in. Unless building connections is an important part of your business, it is likely that you do not have a lot of networking experience. Even while socially distancing, networking is still important and can open the doors to great connections and future opportunities. If you are looking to revamp your networking skills, following our advice below is a great way to get started in the right way.
Join online groups and communities
While many people go directly to LinkedIn when looking to network with other professionals, there are so many other industry forums online where great connections can be made. Asking a few co-workers or doing a quick search will open the door to the groups of professionals you are looking to network with.
Make the connection personal and professional
It can be instinctual to primarily put forward your professional side when networking but making connections over shared personal experiences is a great way to get the conversation flowing. When introducing yourself, mention your alma mater as well as a favorite hobby, sports team, or interest that could help spark a connection.
Build relationships before asking for favors
Developing a strong professional network can open the door to great opportunities in the future, but that should not be your focus when networking, especially not at first. Instead, discuss your career path and the goals you are working towards so if opportunities arise, people know if you would be interested.
Follow up periodically, but not too frequently
After initially making connections with other professionals, it is important to secure those relationships by making plans to get together again. To ensure you are not reaching out excessively, however, keep invitations periodic and avoid trying to make plans during their busy season when they already have a lot on their plate.
Give guidance to those looking for mentors
While receiving guidance is great, networking also gives you the opportunity to meet and mentor young professionals. Being a mentor not only allows you to share some of your experiences and advice but also keeps you up to date with what the younger generations think about your field and where they see the industry going.