Networking – Your Key to Success

The best advice I ever received was during college when I was a temporary employee working a random summer job in an office environment in the Chicagoland area, when one of the VPs told me, “Melanie, networking will get you places. Network everywhere you go: in line at grocery stores, on a plane, at a party, at business events. You never know who you’re going to meet.”

That advice I have taken with me everywhere – in my personal life, social settings and of course in business. Often, it’s not what you know but who you know that really matters.

According to Randy Wolf, regional vice president for Robert Half Technology and The Creative Group in Chicago, “To be a successful networker, you not only have to be able to relate to other people but also be a good listener.” Adds Peter Giaimo, division director for Robert Half Technology in Chicago, “Good schmoozers are good listeners, not talkers. By getting these down you build trust and rapport, thus leading to relationship building.”

Here are a few simple networking tips to help get you on your way to becoming a successful networker:

Introduce yourself with impact:

  •         Make a good first impression. This is very important. A good first impression enables you to start building a relationship.

Be an effective communicator

  • Avoid interrupting or trying to redirect the conversation to your concerns. You can't concentrate on what someone's saying if you're forming what you're going to say next.
  • Show your interest in what's being said. Look your contact straight in the eyes and nod occasionally to show you’re engaged. Being an active listener develops trust and rapport.

Focus on building relationships

  • Be authentic. Your goal should be to present your real self, not someone you think you should be. Ask questions and really get to know the other person. I can immediately assess inauthentic people from the start of a conversation and can’t wait to get away from them.
  • Be considerate of other’s time. If you maximize the only time they have to mingle and talk with others, you will be looked on as a burden.

Follow up:

  • Send a note after meeting new people and connect with them on LinkedIn. It’s critical to continue building the relationship after the event.

Keep in mind an easy rule of thumb: network, network, network. You’ll be amazed at what benefits you’ll reap.

Do you have any networking tips? Share your insight with us!