Networking is how businesses get off the ground in this day and age and improving networking skills is a necessity for any modern businessperson. Business Insider contends that having a strong network is immensely helpful to career advancement. However, networking isn't some magical formula that a few people know and the others simply try to do without. Networking success can be planned and executed to perfection. In order to improve employee networking skills, we should look at a few things that can help the overall outcome of networking setups.
Leave the Comfort Zone Behind
Probably the most important advice for employees looking to develop strong networking connections is to not be afraid to reach out to others and leave the safety and security of your comfort zone behind. Pushing yourself to make connections using a venue finder is something that many people don't do because of how society has developed around us. We see meeting new people are scary and potentially uncomfortable, but in the case of developing networking contacts, the pros far outweigh the cons. That's why stepping out and speaking to new potential contacts is such an important step in cementing networking relationships.
Plan and Appear
It seems as though many people in the modern age think that simply attending a seminar or conference with like-minded people is all that needs to happen to set up strong network connections. That's clearly not the case. Networking needs to be developed beforehand. The most successful entrepreneurs know this try to work their networking plan into their overall yearly business plan to be able to prepare for the conferences and seminars that are most likely to land them valuable connections. Even Forbes notices the necessity of an entrepreneur to have a plan when it comes to their networking. Planning is only half the battle, however and once something is planned, it should be executed. Remember that the big events are few and far between, and attending workshops and tradeshows put on by peers and the local chamber of commerce also has its place in developing local business relationships.
Be Prepared at Social Events
Being prepared means being able to capitalize on having people in near proximity. Develop a handful of topics of discussion that people would find stimulating and maybe even controversial (if that's the direction you're going for). Have a ready supply of business cards to hand out to those people you meet. Don't find yourself in a small pocket of people that you already know, but instead branch out to meet new people. Most importantly, be conscious of your appearance, as first impressions can mean a lot at these types of gatherings and you want to make sure that the right people notice you as you walk in.
Social Media Contacts Count
With the advent of social media, especially sites like Twitter and Instagram, the interaction between individuals on the Internet has opened a lot of possibilities for developing connections. Online, people who tend to command a large audience are termed as influencers and they can be just as persuasive towards an audience as any advertisement campaign. A recent study published by Research Policy suggests that a strong correlation between entrepreneurial success and social engagement online exists. Your online presence can provide a springboard for enhancing your social networking, even locally or regionally, without forcing you to travel any huge distances.
Keep your Goal in Mind
Networking for the sake of networking isn’t what you should have in mind. Simply developing a string of contacts in case something was to come up won't help either of you. Rather, focus on building the relationships that matter. Make the links that count work towards helping you realizing your full networking potential, while giving you useful resources that can be shared across your network. Don't just take from those you link with, but give back to them as well. In this way, you can ensure that you'll always be someone that will be welcome at industry meet-ups.
Tanmoy is a senior consultant and a passionate speaker in the area of training and development. He has a dual MBA (Finance & Marketing) and an Electronics Engineering degree. He is married and currently lives in Toronto, Canada.