Networking can be a gamechanger for your career, especially if you are looking for new job opportunities. However, you’ll need to build strong relationships within your network for this to pay off. For example, you can’t expect to go to one networking event and come out with a new job. Like many things in life, the benefits of strategically networking take time and they rely on strong connections.
Learning how to network in a way that builds strong connections can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Below are four tips to help you network effectively:
Focus on quality, not quantity
When you go to networking events, don’t try to have a conversation with every person there. You might not come across as genuine and it won’t give you the time to have any meaningful conversations. Instead, try to strategically speak to one or two people during the event. This will give you more time to have a solid conversation and build connections that will hopefully continue once the event is over.
Be a good listener
You may want to give your elevator pitch to every person you meet at an event. However, you’ll gain more if you take the time to listen instead. People love being heard, so listening to others will make them feel more valued and more likely to remember you once the event is over. During a conversation, make sure you are actively listening by asking thoughtful questions about important points the individual is making.
Offer what you can
Offering to help someone you meet at a networking event creates a solid foundation for a professional relationship. Whether it’s simple advice on their career or offering to make an introduction to someone you know, a small offer can make a big difference. While you are listening to someone during a networking event, remember to ask yourself, “How can I help this person?” instead of, “How can this person help me?” Being generous showcases the value you have to offer, which gives them a reason to keep you in their network.
Follow up and follow through with your offers
Following up with a connection after an event is key if you want to build professional relationships. However, you’ll also need to follow through with any of the offerings you gave while you spoke in person. If you gave them professional advice or insight during the event. For example, send them a note that showcases how your advice may help. If you offered to make an introduction, send them a note that will connect them to the other person. Following through with your offers showcases that you are credible and someone to trust, which can help you maintain a strong professional connection.