by: Peggy I. McKee-LinkedIn
For most of us, networking isn’t our favorite thing. It’s more of a “must do” than a “want to.” Networking is boring and can be absolutely terrifying. Meeting strangers at stuffy events where you wish a cocktail or three could be downed isn’t exactly fun.
The problem is networking is an absolute “must” in today’s business world. You have to network to get ahead in today’s business climate. If you cannot build a network, you cannot achieve your highest possible level of success.
Luckily, networking isn’t just business cards and small talk these days. Things like LinkedIn profile development and more social media sites play a huge role. So here’s how to make the most of your networking efforts:
It Goes Both Ways
When you’re flexing your networking muscles, make sure to remember that it goes both ways. You need to introduce yourself, talk about your company and more. So does the individual you’re speaking with. Make sure you give the other person time to explain their business and what they do. Nobody likes a selfish networker.
Get Your Mingle On
Instead of networking at stuffy events filled with equally stuffy people, try combining this mandatory activity with things you actually like doing. Join a yoga or cooking class. Find a professionals golf group. Get on Groupon and see if anything strikes your fancy. Everyone is a potential client, and everyone is easier to talk to in a social situation. Networking isn’t all about your LinkedIn profiles and email signature.
Find Your Focus
You can’t network and build a relationship with every single person you “know” right now. It’s mentally, physically, and emotionally impossible. So when deciding who to reach out to, think about who you could help and who could help you. Think back to your past about people who have built an extensive network and could possibly offer an important introduction.
Smooth Talking to Second
Not base! Get your mind off all that. We’re talking about securing a second meeting with a potentially valuable asset to your network. As you work the room at a networking event and meet someone who could be valuable to you, work to build a connection with the individual and then suggest a second meeting before getting contact information.
Networking in person is great. Keeping your executive bio on hand is important. However, times have changed. These days focusing on LinkedIn profile development may be more important than any of the other factors on this list. There are more movers and shakers on LinkedIn than you’ll ever find at a networking event.
Just remember: when making connections on LinkedIn, you need to build relationships online and then take them offline, if possible. One face-to-face meeting with an influencer from the best business social media site could mean more to your career than you could ever imagine.