We all understand the importance of networking: gaining contacts, insight into the field and industry trends are all reasons why we network, but how do we become better at it? Like any skill, networking is an art, that gets better with use and experience.
Here are five easy things you can do to improve your networking skills and make your job search more manageable:
- Remember to listen.
A simple way to improve your networking skills is to remember to listen to the person with whom you are interacting. People generally do not want to waste their time and resources on someone who will not take time to listen to what they have to say. Listening can be a big indicator of your character as a cooperative individual. Also, by listening to what your contacts have to say it should be easier for you to find common interests from which to build a relationship.
- Be confident so you can feel comfortable.
Whether or not you get nerves at networking events or have social anxiety, take a minute to catch your breath and remember to be confident. Being confident in your ability to interact with others can make you and the person you are talking to more at ease.
- Start with a simple conversation.
It is not recommended that you break the ice with a request for a job. The purpose of networking is to build positive professional relationships. Try starting simple by introducing yourself and making some small talk. Relationships are not built in an instant, so there is no need to start by asking favors of someone you barely know.
- Find out the medium of communication they prefer.
Make sure when you are exchanging contact information with someone you ask them which mode of communication they prefer. Do they prefer to connect via LinkedIn or email? Are they always onTwitter?
- Don’t forget to follow up.
If you think a relationship is worth pursuing, take the time to make contact. It only takes a few minutes to write a simple email about how you enjoyed the conversation you had with someone. Try including an article or a new thought on the topic to encourage further contact. If you arrange a formal meeting, be sure to follow up with a thank-you note.