Most business professionals are good at networking
Networking successfully: 7 tips for your business networking
Why networking is important to you too
Networking - a term that Paul has of course heard many times. But so far he has preferred to steer clear of active networking. On the one hand because he had no real idea of it, on the other hand because he asked himself: What good is networking for me?
A whole lot!
Networking can help everyone, including you, professionally, because
- By exchanging ideas with like-minded people, you will receive valuable inspiration, information and ideas for your own job
- In this way you will find partners for joint projects and collaborations
- You give support to others - and you get it yourself
- You may be getting closer to your dream job or a desired position in the company (keyword: vitamin B)
7 tips for building your professional network
Paul finally wants to get started. The only question is: How can you build a professional network? The following tips will help you approach business networking step by step.
1. Be strategic
Paul likes to approach new tasks with a concrete plan. This definitely pays off when it comes to networking! If you want to build up a professional network, first think about a strategy and answer the following questions:
- What do I want to achieve by building a network?
- Which valuable contacts already exist and how can I develop them further?
- Which new contacts would also be useful and how do I get to them?
- How can I describe myself and my work in a few clear words?
Paul would like to make new contacts in order to exchange ideas with like-minded people. His long-term goal is to achieve a management position, be it with his current employer or by applying to another company. Therefore, he would like to get to know people both inside and outside the company who could support him in his career.
2. Find suitable occasions for networking
Networking works both online and offline. Which type of networking you prefer is always a matter of type.
Depending on which industry you work in, different events are suitable for active networking.
Occasions to make external contacts:
- measure up
- Specialist forums
- Training measures
- Memberships in professional associations
- Industry round tables
Occasions to make internal company contacts:
- Lunch with colleagues from other departments
- Company events such as excursions or Christmas parties
- Company sports
Paul, who works in marketing for a large company, met colleagues from the HR department while playing in-house football, with whom he now meets regularly for lunch in the canteen. He also goes to monthly online marketing get-togethers in his city, as this gives him the opportunity to expand his specialist knowledge in online marketing and to get new perspectives on his work.
Not only personal contact, but also the exchange via career networks such as Xing or LinkedIn makes sense. Here you can keep in touch and see if there are professional changes in your contacts.
Online networking is a good alternative, especially for introverted networkers who are reluctant to address complete strangers. But: Just being well connected online is not enough in the long run. At some point you should turn your most interesting online contacts into personal contacts!
XING expert Joachim Rumohr has some tips for business networking with XING on his YouTube channel:
3. Work on your soft skills
Before his first networking event, Paul is nervous: In conversations he is usually the listening part, who prefers to ask questions instead of talking himself, and it is not easy for him to “sell” himself. But that shouldn't be a cause for concern: Networking professionals know that the most important thing is to establish a basis of trust with their counterparts. Those who always push themselves to the fore and want to set the tone in conversations will quickly score negative points when networking.
Important soft skills that you should train and use when networking are, for example
- Courtesy and good manners
- Active listening
A good networker gives his interlocutor space, shows himself to be open and interested and also gives a good tip frankly without speculating on something in return.
4. Less is more: It is better to make fewer, high-quality contacts
At events, but also in online networks such as XING or LinkedIn, it is not important to collect as many contacts as possible. It makes more sense if you concentrate on a few, but really suitable contacts and maintain them over the long term.
At the last online marketing get-together, Paul met an SEO expert who works for a large communications agency. He found the professional exchange with her very exciting, and he could also imagine applying to her agency in the near future. He decides to keep in touch with her via XING and to follow her on Twitter.
5. Prepare networking events specifically before and after
Don't go to a networking event unprepared, especially if you're new to networking. For example, think about how you can introduce yourself in just a few words. With your self-presentation, you should give your interlocutor all the relevant information without boring him with a five-minute monologue.
This is particularly advisable for an upcoming career fair that you would like to visit. In our 10 tips for your visit to the trade fair, we have put together for you which tips you should heed here. But also with online networking z. B. on Xing or LinkedIn you should pay attention to an ideal presentation on the net in order to increase your self-marketing.
6. Give instead of take
Networking is not for egoists. Giving clearly comes before taking! That means, help your contacts with information or small favors before you expect something in return. Networking lives from exchange and mutual support.
Mike Sansone, a social media consultant, formulated what is known as the 70-20-10 rule for networking. So you should
- Use 70 percent of your time to be of help to others
- Use 20 percent of your time to present yourself
- Use 10 percent of your time to seek help from others
It becomes clear that building a network requires time and patience.
7. Maintain your contacts
At the beginning Paul hoped for quick success, but then realized that a network only grows slowly and that he has to maintain his professional contacts continuously, similar to private friendships.
Congratulations on your birthday, send useful information by e-mail or point out interesting events: these small gifts keep you in contact - and will be remembered benevolently.
Paul has not regretted starting networking or refreshing old contacts. Although he has to invest time in his networking activities, he has already met a lot of interesting people and received some valuable information that will help him further in his career planning.
If you too would like to develop yourself professionally and are looking for new challenges, then activate your existing contacts or implement the tips mentioned above to build up a network.
As an alternative to the classic vitamin B, you can rely on AVANTGARDE Experts when looking for a job - take a look at our job exchange and you may soon find your dream job!
Need more business tips? Then you are certainly also interested in our articles on practical apps for better time and self-management or making the right decisions.
Photo credits: Featured image: © iStock / Rawpixel Ltd; Image 1: © iStock / NakoPhotography; Image 2: © iStock / Rawpixel Ltd; Image 3: © iStock / annebaek; Image 4: © iStock / gpointstudio.
So that your networking activities are crowned with success, we finally list the most important rules for successful networking:
- Set a goal: Go ahead without a plan? Better not! Think about the goal with which you are networking and what you want to achieve with it.
- Maintain relevant contacts: Don't randomly add all the people you meet to your network. Instead, think about which contacts are really relevant for your goals and maintain them.
- Don't just take support, but above all give it: don't expect too much from your contacts. You can only expect something in return if you also help others, for example by pointing out interesting events or arranging a contact.
Are you ready for a new challenge?You can go directly to the job exchange here
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