The best advice ever given to me was to network not just at business events but everywhere I am: on a plane, in line at the grocery store or at a party. Why? Because you never know who you’re going to meet and you never know when or where it will happen.
As the old adage goes, it’s not what you know, but who you know. Being visible is a big benefit of networking. Regularly attending both business and social events gives you opportunities to speak to a variety of people about the kind of work you do. This will help to build your reputation as a knowledgeable person in your respective industry.
According to Ryan Shaughnessy, branch manager for Robert Half Technology in Midtown Manhattan, “Networking is about building long-term relationships and a good reputation over time. It involves meeting and getting to know people you can assist, and who can potentially help you in return. The bottom line is, people do business with those they like and trust.”
Salvatore Cataldo, division director for Robert Half Management Resources, recently attended the Financial Executives International (FEI)’s Current Financial Reporting Issues conference in New York. “It is great to see familiar faces each year and stay ahead of the competition by keeping up with our contacts. It’s important for us to continue supporting local organizations like FEI in New York City to increase our network and strengthen our relationships with clients, job seekers and business professionals in general who attend these conferences every year.”
Here are a few simple networking tips to help you become a more successful networker.
Introduce yourself with impact:
- Make a good first impression. People’s first take on you is very important. A good first impression enables you to start building a relationship.
Be an effective communicator
- Show your interest in what's being said. Look people in the eye and nod occasionally to show you’re engaged. Being an active listener develops trust and rapport.
- Avoid interrupting or trying to redirect the conversation to your concerns. You can't concentrate on what someone's saying if you're rehearsing in your mind what you're going to say next.
Focus on building relationships
- Be authentic. While your demeanor should be professional, you don’t want to attempt to put on an act. Your goal should be to present your real self. Ask questions and really get to know the other person. I can immediately assess an inauthentic person from the start of a conversation and can’t wait to get away from them.
- Be considerate of other’s time. If you talk so much that you use up the only time your acquaintances have to meet others, you will be looked on as a burden.
- Focus on building the relationship after the event. Send a note after meeting new people and connect with them on LinkedIn.
So next time you’re waiting in the security line at the airport, strike up a conversation with the person next to you. You never know who that person might be!