Posted by Michelle Johanson on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - 00:00
Networking. It’s one of those activities you know you should be doing so you have a base of connections who can help during a job search or when you need career advice. However, it just hasn’t happened lately. If you’re like many, one of the key factors holding you back is that you lack the networking tips to get started.
When you don’t know how to network, the prospect of introducing yourself to strangers can be overwhelming. It can be even more challenging if you’re naturally shy.
The right networking tips, though, can help any administrative professional ease anxiety and make meaningful connections with others.
Start by thinking about what you already do. Realize that you’re probably networking on a regular basis at work. That time you introduced yourself to the new employee in the break room or to an executive arriving for an appointment, you were getting your name out there. Use this knowledge as a confidence-builder as you aim to expand your networking activities.
It's helpful to have a pitch ready to go. Those who know how to network have a basic introduction prepared to get any conversation going. It’s often something like, “Hi, I don’t believe we’ve met. I’m Jane Doe and I’m the office manager at ABC Company. What do you do?” This greeting works well in a variety of situations. You might also ask how someone met the individual who introduced you or how the person got involved with the group hosting the event you’re attending. Make a few notes about your conversation afterward to jog your memory later.
Clearly, administrative associations and business events are ideal for networking. However, don’t forget to try to meet new people at other activities, such as while volunteering or attending training sessions. Contacts don’t need to be in the administrative field to be useful. Some of my best career advisors have no involvement in the writing profession and give me a fresh perspective on situations.
Keep in mind that in today's digital age, a lot of networking can be done online. When people think of networking tips, they often envision applying them to face-to-face interactions, but it’s just as valuable now to take your efforts online. Social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter offer opportunities to connect with others through specialized groups, such as those for administrative professionals or individuals working in a particular industry.
While the goal of networking is to meet people who can assist you, recognize that it’s a two-way street. If you’re participating in an online forum, for instance, make sure you're not just asking for advice but that you’re also offering help to others. If those in your network ask for assistance, do all you can to provide it.
The best of all networking tips, though, is simply to be yourself. If you come across as sincere and honest when meeting new people, you’ll make a far better impression than if you’re overly aggressive or salesy. Listen to what others have to say. Make them feel important not because you want them in your network, but because you have a genuine interest in them as individuals.
If you're already out there networking, what additional advice would you give to others?