Connect with Others
Networking is more than just a buzzword. Taking the time to network and build relationships is an important soft skill. Networking helps you create connections with others, which expands your circle of learning and support. Networking is more than meeting people or connecting with them on the internet. It involves building mutually beneficial links where you can learn from and benefit from each other and the relationship.
Redefine Need – what you bring to the table
When many people think of networking, they think of in terms of what they need or what they can get from the networking relationship. Networking can be more beneficial if we instead think of what we can give in our networking relationships. Think about what you have to offer people instead only of what you need from them. When you think in terms of what you can offer as well as what you need from others, it expands your network. You begin to seek out people to whom you can offer yourself, your expertise, and talents rather than just those who have something to offer you. Seeing yourself as someone with much to offer also helps to boost your self-confidence.
Identifying Others’ Interests
When you network with others, it’s crucial to identify others’ interests. This helps you identify common interests and goals, as well as areas in which you can offer of yourself. When you meet a new person, ask about his or her goals and interests. Ask yourself how they mesh with your own goals and interests.
- How do they line up with the goals and interests of your organization?
- How can you integrate your interests with others to find common ground?
- What common goals do you have?
- What can you offer of yourself to help others reach their goals?
- How can they help you reach your goals?
Focusing on ways in which your goals and interests integrate with others’ helps create a strong, powerful network that goes beyond simple friendship.
To be able to network, you have to reach out. There are many ways to do this, both online and in person. One of the easiest ways to reach out is to join professional social networking sites such as LinkedIn, and look for people in your industry or who share your interest. Join groups, both online and in person – professional groups and associations, groups which promote skills you want to develop (such as Toastmasters) and groups that work for causes you value are all good choices. No matter what you choose as a method of meeting people, the important part of networking is to talk to people. Approach people and start a conversation, and cultivate a presence that makes you approachable. Be responsive when people contact you via email or phone. Make time in your schedule each week to work on networking – schedule it as you would any other important task. Use your soft skills – listening actively, projecting self-confidence, build others up, as you network.
When to Back Off
As important as knowing how and when to reach out is knowing when to back off. If it becomes clear that the person you are trying to connect with is not responding, it is time to move on. The last thing you want is for someone to feel pursued. Be willing to back off if a person appears to be trying to distance him or herself. Also, be aware of being too self-promoting, this can be off putting. Know that you have much to offer to others and that someone not wanting to build a networking relationship with you is not a reflection of your worth as a person.
Enroll to any of the Bridge Business College Courses and gain access to LinkedIn Learning video contents, publish your successful completion certificates on your LinkedIn profile and network with people interested in your skills.