7 easy networking tips for professionals
It's commonly said that the key to success is not just what you know, but also who you know.
Of course, having the correct skill set is crucial, but professional networking creates the right foundation to launch a business or build a career as a freelance professional. It doesn't have to be daunting or intimidating; here are some simple tips to help you discover the best way to network.
Join a Chamber of Commerce
It's a great idea to join your local Chamber of Commerce - they are designed to help businesses of all shapes and sizes grow and prosper. They provide local firms with an access point for government services and funds, provide learning opportunities, link businesses together and support those that are looking to grow.
Avoid the hard sell
It can be easy to see networking as a way to pitch your proposition to new customers, but try not to go to a networking event with the sole objective of winning new business. There's nothing wrong with explaining what you do, but don't self promote too much. Listen to what others have to say; you are just as likely to meet someone that can help you as opposed to you helping them.
Stay active on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is an extremely powerful social platform if used correctly and can lead to many new contract opportunities. Make sure you continually strengthen your relationships with connections - don't just turn to LinkedIn when you need something. Endorse contacts and share useful articles you've found on the web. Like most social platforms, it is something that needs to be nurtured in order to see results.
Always carry business cards
You never know when you might meet a great contact, so always keep your business cards with you wherever you go. Take an extra supply when attending a networking event or conference, and make sure you invest in quality business cards as they will reflect positively on your brand.
Choose events wisely
Attending events with limited relevance to your sector can be a waste of time, so carefully select events you attend. Who is likely to be there? If you have attended an association event in the past and haven't seen any results, perhaps you need to consider investing your time elsewhere. Preparation is key - try to obtain an attendee or delegate list to help you decide who you would like to be introduced to.
Keep contacts fresh
Try to keep in touch with your most important contacts every few weeks/months. Ask them how business is going, or send them an article which may be of interest; Twitter and LinkedIn are ideal platforms for this kind of interaction. By keeping yourself fresh in their minds, they are much more likely to contact you when they need someone with your expertise.
People love to talk about their business or profession, so remember to ask lots of questions and listen to their answers. If you are charming and likeable, you are likely to be remembered.