Thanks to the advancements of modern technology, connecting with people across the globe has never been easier. Indeed, the convenience of apps and mobile devices have changed how we communicate and collaborate with one another.
All these have paved the way for remote jobs and the rise of knowledge-based work. Indeed, the key to succeeding in today’s world is to gain access to more knowledge. While investing in books and courses is one way to go about it, a more efficient method is to build a strong network. Truly, the richest sources of first-hand data are via people working in the companies and industries that you’re interested in.
The Importance of Networking in Today’s Knowledge Economy
Think of every person you meet as a living vault containing a wealth of insight, knowledge, and experience. Hence, making and nurturing business relationships provides you with more opportunities to get inspiration, generate ideas, and discover potential career breakthroughs. Additionally, the more knowledge you gain, the more you can share with others, increasing your perceived value among your connections. This is why your ongoing career success will heavily rely on the depth of your professional network.
That said, networking entails more than just making small talk with other people. Instead, you should treat networking as a skill that you can improve on with practice. If you have no idea how to go about it, read on for some helpful tips on networking:
Reframe Your View of Networking
Some people don’t enjoy putting themselves ‘out there’, believing that networking is a waste of time. Others view networking as a means to approach others with an ulterior motive in mind, such as asking for work or getting something for nothing. It’s no wonder why so many people shy away from doing it, thinking that they’ll come across as opportunistic or intrusive.
If you know what you’re doing, taking your time to network properly will have its benefits down the line. Conversely, if one continued to view networking negatively, you would definitely have a hard time connecting with others. And while there are indeed others who go about networking for their own selfish gains, that’s not at all what networking is about!
So, before anything else, you need to work on reframing the way you think about networking. You can start by thinking of these meetings as if they were another form of professional research, gathering data and sources you can use for reference later on.
Always Provide Value to Your Network
One of the most effective ways to build long-lasting connections is to be there for them when its needed. By solving their problems, you become an important connection in their eyes. Additionally, focusing on providing value to others will definitely earn you a positive reputation in your community.
To get started, all you have to do is ask your connection if there’s anything you can help them with. You may be surprised at how your skills could be just what they’ve been looking for all this time. You may decide to offer your own time or knowledge, which is a small price to pay for creating a new life-long connection. Alternatively, you may find they need different skills at this point, and just pointing them to someone who can help them will be of great benefit to them and add to your relationship.
Don’t Forget to Follow Up with Your Connections
They say that networking is where the conversation begins, not where it ends. However, people tend to become so busy they can forget to check in on each other after the networking meeting is over. Sometimes if you don’t take the initiative to follow up with a connection, new connections can be lost over time.
Hence, don’t forget to reach out within a day or two of meeting someone new. You can do this by sending them a short message, reminding them who you are and what you talked about. This re-establishes your connection with them and opens up a line of communication for future conversations.
Take the Time to Nurture Your Relationships
Another way to build meaningful relationships is to keep in touch with your connections. Simple but thoughtful gestures such as congratulating them on achievements or wishing them a happy birthday can go a long way to helping them remember you. Informing them of opportunities they might be interested in or referring them to people who could help them achieve their goals shows them you value your new acquaintance.
Generally, you’ll want to reach out to your network of connections at least once every quarter. If there are certain people, you’re trying to build a closer relationship with, you’ll want to check in on them more often, at least once a month.
Learning how to build a large, diverse network is key to your personal and professional success. Just keep these networking tips in mind and we’re sure that you’ll make all sorts of interesting new connections. Now get out there and start meeting more people!