Having a great network can help you create more value, get more ideas, or become more successful in different parts of your life. Get five quick tips on what you can do to grow your network.
Let’s face it. Networking doesn’t always come naturally and yet we tell ourselves it’s something we must prioritize. I mean, everyone does it, right? Online, offline, at work, at conferences, at parties and so forth.
Truth is, we are living in a time and area when networking has become a popular topic and if not a mandatory skill. Not to mention if your job depends on it, like in the case of Head Hunters or recruiters.
After working with professional networking events for many years, I pay attention to how people network.
I have found that one or more of these five tips are essential for growing a successful network.
#1. Filter out the noise
The large variety of different networking events, apps, webinars and online communities can make networking overwhelming for anyone.
You need to know how to filter out what is irrelevant, yet still be open for new opportunities.
Ask new connections to introduce themselves when you connect online, and make sure to do the same (be honest, how often are you actually doing that?).
You can also ask a host to provide you with a participating list before signing up to social events if possible.
Don’t be afraid to communicate directly with strangers in order to get valuable information, because human-to-human communication is the tool to filter out the noise in any online community.
#2. Be in the right place, at the right time
One of my good friends is a great networker. She is authentic and genuine and she knows all the cool kids in town through her job as a fashion designer.
One Friday evening after dinner, she came up with the idea that we should go and have coffee at the lobby of a fancy hotel nearby.
As we sat there sipping cappuccinos, A-lister after A-lister walked through the lobby on their way to another event.
Almost all of them came and said hi to my friend, chatting politely with us for a couple of minutes. Most importantly, they were introducing their friends too.
I don’t think that was a coincidence. Figuring she knows exactly what happens in town, it was intentional.
My friend did three important things that we can learn from.
1) She had identified her target group.
2) She got the right information (she filtered out the noise).
3) She put herself (and me, the sidekick) in the right place at the right time.
She had chosen that particular place because she knew about the event and saw the potential of both maintaining and growing her network.
That Friday night was a great example of successful, strategic networking.
#3. Have real conversations and real relationships
Maybe you don’t have the possibility to know where all the cool kids hang out tonight, and you don’t have the time to join them either. That’s just fine.
But when you do find yourself wanting to make new connections, remember this. People want real conversations and real relationships.
You shouldn’t be looking at people’s nametags to decide if they are worth your time at an event, just make sure to place yourself in an area you identify to fit your target and go with the flow.
Be authentic, positive and curious — yet selective.
Spend some time with people who you enjoy and make sure to connect with them after the event itself. Take time to write small greetings. Send a link to an article on a topic you discussed. Send a selfie with a common friend next time you meet them.
Don’t be afraid to be your true self and show some humour!
#4. Know some mingling basics
Pay attention to how you are signalling contact when you network. While you are responsible for your own networking, you should also remember to ease the networking of others.
There is nothing worse than having to “elbow your way” into a group in order to participate in the dialogue, no matter where you are.
Make sure that you give space to others who want to network by standing so that anyone can enter the group and talk. You might be surprised who joins the conversation and expands your network.
#5. Stay for the late drink
Take your afternoon nap, because the late hours are where the magic happens (no, not the kinky stuff, I mean the networking-magic).
The late and often private social events, are where you connect.
OK, you’re busy. I get it, and that’s a difficult challenge for any professional. But at least make sure to stay for the mingle-hour whenever you have the chance. Please trust me on this one.
That’s when you can have real conversations and create opportunities. It’s when you can make relaxed, genuine and valuable connections.
”Networking is a players game, it’s not a spectators sport!”
Written by Florina Højbjerg Weisz, Community Manager at HireXn.
What are your best networking tips? Share your stories in the comments below or give a shoutout to Florina and HireXn on twitter!