We hear the word “networking” all the time. People talk about their network, and how having a great network can take you so far. A real definition of networking: is the exchange of information among people with a common interest. No one is talking about how to build your network or why you should build your network, so let’s dive into this head first.
Why should you build your network?
- Gain insights into an industry
If you are considering switching career paths or making the move networking is a great way to gain insights into the new industry. You can ask people who work in the industry questions about their own experiences. This can also help you find out if an industry is well suited to your personality and interests.
- Find a potential new employer
Networking allows you to showcase yourself beyond your resume and cover letter. If you are considering applying for a position at a company networking gives you the opportunity to make a positive impression on the people who will be reviewing your resume. If you can connect in person with your network, you can create a great face-to-face impression even before you enter the job interview.
- Practice your networking skills
The more you network, the more comfortable you will become and better you will be. Having a one-on-one networking session can help build your confidence to attend a larger networking event. This can also help you with number two on this list, you can meet face-to-face and build real relationships that can take you far!
- Build your network
The more people that you network with, the more opportunities you create for yourself. A larger network opens more doors into different industries and has more job opportunities. This encompasses the previous three reasons on why you should build your network.
How to build your network
Networking can happen through facilitated events, direct requests and chance meetings. Whether you are meeting someone for a one on one coffee chat or talking to an executive at a facilitated event it is important to follow the key networking mechanics to have a successful outcome.
Here are some key tips for networking:
- Have a firm handshake making web to web contact with the other person you are meeting
- At a networking event when approaching a group avoid interrupting someone and instead wait for a pause in the conversation
- Start the conversation and have the delegate talk about them
- Continue the conversation through open-ended questions
- After 5-15 minutes complete a graceful exit by thanking them for their time, asking to connect and leaving with a handshake
- SMILE and stay positive!