Guest Blog by: Joe Sanfilippo
Networking is a term that gets thrown around so much in the business world. If you are trying to get your first job or you are moving to a new place and you ask a friend for advice it’s likely you’ll hear them say that “you need to build your network”. You might ask yourself, “What does it mean to build a network and how is this done effectively?”. In my eyes, networking is building relationships with people and earning trust. Here are 3 simple tips on how to effectively network:
01. Act Out Of Good Faith
As stated above, effective networking is about building relationships and earning trust. So the first step to building a great network is to completely remove your interests from the equation. If you want to build great relationships and friendships start by listening to people and learning about their interests and the challenges that they might be facing. When engaging in conversations with new friends or people in your industry try to enter the conversation without thinking about how that person can help you. Simply listen to people and ask them thoughtful questions. Don’t try to sell them anything. See if there are things you can do to help people that doesn’t require any additional efforts from them or any implication of them needing to do anything back for you. Simply be someone who is willing to lend a hand with no strings attached, this goes a long way.
02. Find Opportunities to Connect with People in a Friendly Setting
Networking events are great but they are usually not very successful. When attending a networking event you’ll find that everyone is kind of looking to improve their own situation which doesn’t really lead to meaningful relationships. A better approach is to look for groups where you can connect with people who have similar interests as you. If you like to run then look to join the local running club, if you are interested in reading head to the library to see what book clubs might exist. Finding people with similar interests makes networking a lot easier!
Just like anything else the more you practice the better you’ll get. Don’t be afraid to strike up conversations with random people wherever you may go. The more you talk to people the easier it’ll become to pick up on body language and ask the right questions at the right time. Remember to always LISTEN! Listening and making people feel heard is the key to getting them to let their guard down and open up to you. Relationships are built when trust is established so you have to listen and display empathy when meeting new people.
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