By Ryan Velez
Networking. This is a word those of us in the professional world hear all the time as something that we need not only to implement but refine in order to be successful. Many people dislike it, but the benefits of regularly implementing networking into your schedule have been discussed at length. Whether you are directly looking for clients, trying to expand your operations, or learn more about a certain field, networking is a valuable tool. However, what may surprise you is the fact that many who are trying to make the steps to get their networking started still aren’t having the success that they are looking for. A recent article from Black Enterprise covers some valuable advice if you are looking to try and get the most out of your networking.
One thing to keep in mind is that while networking events are a great idea, especially if you are reluctant to network, it’s not as simple as showing up to everyone that passes your way. Treat this event the same way that you would any other upcoming work event: plan. Be sure to research the type of events that are right for you before making a choice. From design to the field, there are lots of networking events out there, but picking incorrectly will be a waste of your time. Try to set goals as well rather than just randomly showing up. Set a number of new people you are looking to meet and don’t leave the event until you hit the number. If you come with a group of people, go outside of your comfort zone.
When the time comes to meet with people, if you’re unsure on how to speak, simply practice. There’s no harm in being prepared to make the best impression. Be ready to say what you have to offer, but not go too hard into selling your products or service. This is about meeting—the chance to get to brass tacks will come later.
A major piece of networking events is what takes place afterward. You may make a good impression on someone, but the fact of the matter is that many other people are doing the same. What you need to do is be able to follow up on that to make sure that memory grows into a potential opportunity. Collect business cards and write notes on them about the conversation to keep things fresh when you make contact again. Try to make use of multiple methods of communication to reestablish contact, like social media platforms or their personal website. If possible, make a note beforehand on what they prefer.