The minute I say the word 'networking,' on a scale from 1-10, how likely are you to break out in hives? With the exception of my business development and sales folks, for many, it elicits feelings of nausea, anxiety and outright dread. But that doesn't have to be the case. Instead, here are 5 tips to develop a networking strategy that feels aligned with who you are.
Tip #1 - Change your mindset.
Your mindset is usually the BIGGEST hurdle. You are never asking for a job when networking; instead, you are simply gathering information. Adjusting your thinking and perspective in this regard can be very freeing as you begin to develop your full-blown strategy.
Tip #2 - Be genuine and be curious.
Each time you attend a networking event or schedule an informational conversation, you should be genuinely curious about the other person.
"The biggest regret I hear from my clients is not building a network before they really needed one."
Tip #3 - Prepare to ask the right questions.
When you are conducting an informational interview, AKA networking one-on-one with an individual, you should be prepared to ask 3-4 questions to help you tap into the person's expertise. Learn what you can about their career path, what they like or dislike, and find out what they would change if they had to do it again.
Tip #4 - Don't assume.
Don't assume that only individuals in leadership positions can help you. At the end of the day, every individual has their own unique perspective and story. I've heard time and again - the people you think will have good feedback, tips or suggestions for you won't, and those that you assume won't, do.
Tip #5 - Finish strong.
In every curious conversation, informational interview or networking encounter, do not forget to ask the #1 most important question: "Who else do you recommend I speak with?" If you don't ask, the answer will always be 'no.'
Remember- people know people.
Not in the job market currently? That's ok. Now is the perfect time to be intentional with your network.
Don't wait until you are in a point of desperation to develop your networking strategy. Be authentic.
Remember This: Commit to your personal development; that is all networking is.
It's also about giving back. Don’t be shy. Commit to one networking encounter next week: an event, a phone call, a quick meeting.
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