Did you know that 80% of jobs are found through networking?
Even if you are not actively looking for a job or to generate leads for your business, it is important to build your professional network. If you have a strong network now, you will be able to tap into that network when you do have a need. If you wait until you are looking for a job, it will be too late.
Around this time of year, there are a lot of holiday parties and professional networking events. These are all opportunities to build your professional network. Not only do you want to meet new people to grow your network, but you also want to continue to foster the relationships of those who are already in your network. So, let’s step back for a minute and review the basics of professional networking.
What is professional networking?
Networking is the process of building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships through sharing resources, information and support. In short, professional networking is when you CONNECT with others on a professional level.
Why is professional networking so important?
Knowing how to build, maintain and utilize your professional network is one of the most important tools to help advance your career. In addition to potentially helping you land a job, professional networking is beneficial for many other reasons, including:
Helping you gain access to information
Helping you be perceived as an expert in your field
Helping you build trust with others.
Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, has been largely regarded as the expert in building professional relationships for the past 100 years. One of my favorite Dale Carnegie quotes is:
"You make more friends in two months by becoming genuinely interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you."
Carnegie’s principles for making other people like you are simple:
Become genuinely interested in other people.
Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.
Carnegie’s principles are based on his belief that to be successful, you need to show that you are interested in other people. So when you are networking, think about how you can meet the other person’s needs instead of your own.
How do you show interest in others?
The best way to show others that you are interested in them is to ask questions. You can ask them general questions, such as “Where are you from?” Or business-related questions, such as “What company are you with?” or “What kind of work do you do?” This time of year is a great time to ask holiday-related questions, such as “What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” This question can easily spark a conversation about food, family, and traditions. Remember to make it about them, not you.
What shouldn’t you do when networking?
When you are in a professional networking environment, there are definitely some things to avoid. You want to be sure that you are NOT:
Being too intrusive about other people’s lives
Being too personal about your own life
Being rude in your words or tone of voice
Appearing to sell something or trying to get something from the other person
Following another person around without being invited.
Every time you are at a social or professional gathering is an opportunity to network. If you need additional help, Online Speech Services is available for one-on-one coaching or group workshops. Contact us today for a free consultation.