Master the art of professional networking in under 3 minutes
Updated: Dec 10, 2018
No matter what industry you’re involved in, professional networking is a proven way to enhance your success and it’s something I’ve been helping business professionals develop for years, through my role as National Learning and Development Manager at Appco Australia.
Networking is a powerful way to grow your career and open doors to new opportunities. But the very idea of it can make some of us want to hide in a dark room – it doesn’t always come naturally, and often we just don’t know where to start. However, I believe it’s possible for anyone to learn how to network more effectively – we just need a winning formula. Here are 5 simple tips I have tried and tested to help you improve your technique.
1. Be authentic
Professional networking isn’t just handing out business cards – building authentic connections matter in business. Being personable and genuine is preferred over a scripted approach, so don’t be afraid to be yourself. Initiate conversation by introducing yourself, sharing something about you and your business interests and, most importantly, asking questions about the other person.
2. Networking with a purpose
Because time is precious in business, have a genuine reason to engage in conversation. Perhaps you’re looking to find a solution to a current business challenge, or you need to increase your knowledge on an industry trend. No matter what it is, go into every networking situation with a clear purpose so you can use your time with others wisely.
3. It’s not all about you
It might sound harsh, but it’s a mistake many people make in a networking environment. Meeting other professionals is a chance to share your expertise and forge future business relationships. Consider what you may have to offer, whether it’s sharing your contacts, providing specialist advice or offering a different perspective to a problem they’re experiencing.
4. Unwritten rules
Like all good communication, networking is more of an exercise in ‘active listening’. Be appreciative of the opportunity to gain insight from others and remember to express this. Take the opportunity to follow up with anyone you meet, if only to thank them for their time and the chance to speak with them.
5. Prepare to be challenged
The quote ‘I learn nothing from people who agree with me’ is a reminder that networking allows us to gain another perspective on a current business challenge. If your objective is to learn or receive advice, be prepared to be challenged – after all, good networking should always involve asking others for their opinion or perspective.
I recommend putting these tips into practice the next time you’re presented with an opportunity to network in a professional environment – who knows where the conversation may lead you.
This blog was written by Greig Ward, Appco Australia’s National Learning and Development Manager. To learn more about Appco Australia watch our latest video which explains what we do, or check out our Facebook page.