I know enough people at my company. I have enough friends. I’m not comfortable speaking and reaching out to people I don’t know. I’m not a salesperson. The list of excuses on why not to engage in professional networking can go on and on. As undesirable as it can seem, networking successfully can lead to improved performance in your current job, as well as opportunities for future career development.
5 quick tips on making networking easy
Network with a purpose
Set a specific goal (improving inter-department relationships, growing sales in the logistics industry, discovering opportunities to work abroad in your company, etc). The more focused your networking is, the faster the desired results will be.
Share useful information
It is always easier to reach out to someone when you know you have something they can use. Think of something that has helped you in your job (a process, document, tip, etc) and pass it along. If you help someone first, they are more willing to help you when you may need it in the future.
Use the other person’s ego
You don’t want to contact someone and ask them for a job. Instead, contact them and ask for an informational interview if you are looking for a job. Tell them you have some questions that you feel their experience will help answer. You will get some insight and a good networking contact, and they get to feel like an expert and helpful. It’s a win-win situation.
If you say you are going to send something, send it. If you say you are going to check on something, do it. Following up on what you say you will do shows respect and professionalism, and helps build trust with the contact. Also, make sure to follow up regularly with contacts even when you don’t need something as there will be a time when you will; and no one likes that friend who only calls when they need something.
Use good etiquette
The same skills you have used to become a successful professional are the ones you will use to build and maintain a good network of contacts. Here are some good reminders on what to do/not to do when networking online and face-to-face.
There are many other ideas on networking successfully. Check out Target Training’s seminar on networking for professionals here. Tell us in the comments area below what have you done to build your network.