Our professional network plays an important part in our pursuit of career success, from finding employment or career advancement to new business opportunities. But what if you are not an expert at networking?
We have you covered with six foolproof networking tips to turbocharge your career:
1) Establish a Credible Online Presence
Establishing a credible online presence is important in this digital age, where people connect and expand their network through social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
To build your credibility, look at every aspect of your online profile and consider what kind of impression you might make on the viewer. Do your words show that you are polite and friendly? Does your work history reflect a reliable and trustworthy employee? Make sure your personal or professional blog and other social media profiles paint a positive picture of your personality.
Remember to update your social media profiles often, and include a signature line with your name and contact details in your emails, so that your personal brand is memorable.
Moreover, with hiring managers now using social media to find the right candidate for a position, having a considerable online following can work to your advantage when you apply for a job.
One of the easiest ways to start making a buzz online is to actively participate in forums or LinkedIn groups. You can make it a habit to share useful content about your line of work or engage people in conversations about issues related to your industry. By doing so, you can gradually build your credibility and identity as one of the contributors within your industry.
2) Reach Out to Others
Do not limit your network to people from your current or previous workplace. Everyone is a potential connection; hence, it would be prudent to start getting to know other people in your community.
You can do this by joining clubs, doing volunteer work, or participating in industry events, including conferences, seminars, and workshops. Better yet, why not host an event instead of simply participating in one? This would help introduce new people into your circle and, if you do well, will boost your credibility and authority in your industry.
3) Be a Listener, Not Just a Talker
Not only do you have to be a talker while networking, you also have to be a good listener. Have a genuine interest in what the other person is saying, and ask relevant questions about their professional background and experiences. Be a good conversationalist by making sure you let people share their opinions and, as much as possible, avoid interrupting someone else while they are speaking.
4) Follow Through and Stay in Touch
After attending a networking event, follow through and stay in touch with your new contacts. This is the essence of networking, and is the most effective way to build and maintain a strong network.
Send a simple ‘thank you’ email a few days after meeting your new contact. You can also remind them to visit your online profile, blog or website, and connect with them on social media.
A strong network is not only measured by the number of contacts you have, but also the quality of these contacts. For instance, you might know 100 people, but if most of them are within the same group, you have not expanded your network as much as you could have.
Try to diversify as you build your network. This means to make an effort to connect with people who are outside of your professional circle. Network with people from different professions and industries, and even other countries.
6) Pay It Forward
Networking is not simply a way to get ahead in your career. Look at networking as a way to pay it forward; it is an opportunity to build relationships and help others without expecting anything in return or keeping score.
Most would recommend someone they like and trust for a job position or business opportunity. If you show that you are someone willing to share your knowledge and support others, you would be top-of-mind among people you have helped. You could eventually create a solid personal and professional network that would also act as your support group.
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