What is Networking?
Networking is the act of meeting and getting to know various people who can potentially help you develop your career or business. This will mean different things to different people. Networking does not always require you to be a social butterfly; it really is just as simple as building relationships with people around you. Relationship building is about getting to know people and understanding who they are, what they are passionate about and why. It requires us to listen and respond in a positive way. Is it meant to be awkward? It is only as awkward as you make it. If you lead with the intention of simply trying to get to know someone, instead of trying to gain something from that person, you will instantly have a different tone, feeling, and interest in the conversation.
What if I am not comfortable talking to people I don’t know?
We have ALL felt this way… but if you don’t meet people and step outside of our comfort zone, you may miss out on opportunities to do something cool and to make some amazing relationships that could benefit you personally and in your career! Networking takes effort and initiative, but its rewards can be substantial.
Here are some tips for building relationships and being networking saavy!
- First impressions count! Be friendly, polite, and kind.
- Stand out! Dress in bright colours, wear fun ties, or socks. If you stand out, you will easily be remembered by those you meet, so think outside the box.
- Make sure to have a business card or something similar handy. You will want to stay connected after all!
- Attend social gatherings (with coworkers, friends and/or family) and other community oriented events you are interested in or a passionate about. This is a great way to meet people and help your local community!
- Volunteer at a local organization or join a committee/board.
- Keep in touch! Always look to create a positive, continuing relationship with those you meet. Take the person out for coffee or meet for lunch.
- Reconnect with friends from the past… I bet they are doing some cool stuff now!
- Track what works and what doesn’t. If you hear back from one of your networks, you know you have done well, so keep doing what you’re doing well. If you haven’t, then stop and re-evaluate your networking strategy.
- Remember that everyone you meet is worth talking to in one way or another. Never close a door before it hasn’t even opened!
Places to meet new people:
Some examples of popular events that can be used as an opportunity to build networks are:
- Networking events
- Information sessions
- Recruitment gatherings
- Community events
- Career fairs
- College fairs
The more people you meet and speak to, the more opportunities and relationships you will receive and build! Career development and relationship building do not come knocking on your door.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and that is the first step towards successful networking!