Networking is a powerful skill to have but it takes focus and dedication to build a strong network. The foundation lies on the strength of the connection or relationship. When you first meet someone, there are numerous questions you can ask but it’s important to first identify the goal or purpose behind why you want to network. This is especially true when you’re networking for a job because the stronger your relationship is with that person, the more chances you have in achieving a positive result. The following tips below will help you build your networking skills.
Start with a Question
Initiate conversations by asking the other person questions about him or her. These questions can range from the atypical D.C., introduction of “where do you currently work”, “what are some of your current duties”, or something as simple as “what brings you here today?” Finding common ground brings about a certain comfort level between individuals and it makes the other party more susceptible to continue the conversation with you. Once you get into a good conversation rhythm, do your best to listen. Pay close attention to topics and interests you have in common. Also listen for areas wherein you can offer your assistance.
Pay a Compliment
Compliments are another great way to break the ice. As Dale Carnegie explained in his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, folks love receiving compliments and talking about themselves. Use these successfully proven concepts to your advantage in order to establish that initial connection. You can give compliments based on your observations (shoes, hair, make-up, outfit) or what you’ve heard during your conversation thus far.
Go Beyond Work and Volunteer
Volunteering is another great opportunity to grow your network. Often times, if you’re unable to find a connection based on the person’s work, you can ask about the professional organizations they participate in an attempt to find common ground. You can also establish a deeper connection by volunteering with the same organization he or she is involved in.
Don’t Forget to Follow-Up
While it is important how to establish a good first impression when networking, what you do afterwards is just as important. Send a short thank you note via email or social media within 48 hours of your initial meeting. Following-up is your chance to remain relevant in your network’s mind and to re-iterate what you discussed when you first met. Also, continue corresponding with that person on occasion by providing updates about your life or sharing articles and information that you know he or she will be interested in. Avoid reaching out only when you need something. Finally, when you keep in mind that networking is a give and take, you will be on your way to becoming a networking superstar.
These tips are just a handful of ways to increase your networking skills and help you build a stronger and longer lasting network.
This article was written by Chantal Wynter.