5 aspects about Professional Networking you must know

Professional Networking is about having a strong personal brand with connections to a network of resources for mutual development and growth. You achieve your greatest success through your relationships with others. That’s why it is critical to build and maintain your network. If this intends to support others, you will be far more successful than your objectives solely to satisfy your own objectives. 

Having conversations with like-minded contacts, sharing ideas, and finding common interests is the key. Paying it forward in times of prosperity makes networking easy if you ever need it in the future. A British anthropologist Robin Dunbar theorized that humans can comfortably maintain 150 stable relationships. Therefore, it is the quality of the relationships that matter.  

1. Professional Networking – how to do it?

Interestingly, active listeners happen to be the best networkers. It is about making sure you ask incisive questions to get the person you interact with to open up. Knowledge is power, and doing prior research about the person helps you find common areas of interest.

  • You can look to expand your network by striking up a conversation at a gym, golf club, airplane, attending networking events, or by reaching out to your existing contacts for introductions to certain people. Discipline yourself with targets to connect to new people periodically. For example, have a goal to meet at least one new person every week.
  • Staying focused on how you can help others succeed in what they want to achieve is the sure-shot way to grow your network rapidly. It helps to generate sufficient goodwill that eventually will pay rich dividends.
  • It would be best to create a calendar of various networking events that can help expand your connections. The most important thing is to remain connected after the initial meeting.

In summary, first listen, then show value during interactions with smart responses, and finally sustain the connection over time.

2. Professional Network – how to sustain it?

In a digitally connected world, you can easily make new contacts. However, after the first meeting, most business cards end up in office drawers. The toughest part of networking is to remain in touch with your connections.

By thinking back on your interaction details, you can easily figure out opportunities or other connections that could help. The best thing to do is a meaningful email or text on a monthly or quarterly basis. Show your genuine interest in the person by a quick “found this interesting article” email. Offering a helpful connection can significantly make a difference in the relationship. It may not seem easy to remain persistent once you get busy with a new job, but it’s definitely well worth the effort.

Even if you know the right contacts, you cannot predict how hard they will back you, or how far they will go all the way for you. To build a robust network, you don’t to be an expert at it. You need to keenly read the situation to figure out what will sustain the connection and make it deeper.

Professional Meeting

3. Professional Networking – how to start a conversation?

We become highly networked by meeting people and then investing in those relationships. This is useful for us to create that “bank of goodwill,” which we can dip into in times of need. Here are conversation breakers for beginners:

  • Start by asking about the other person, their business, how long they have been in what they are doing, and basically breaking the ice by listening to what they have to say and probing with more related questions to show genuine interest. Keep the focus on them.
  • People are usually interested in what they want, not what you want. It would be best to show how interested you are in their business and how you could help them. They’ll then reverse that conversation and ask you the same in return.
  • Offering to connect with the right people, sharing knowledge in areas of common interest, talking about your customer stories that may be relevant, or getting support from freelancers you know will greatly value the person interested.

4. Professional Networking – why should you do it?

A valuable component of your personal brand is the network built over time. It would be best if you effectively articulated about you/your business, the basics of what you do, and your experience in the field. In the same light, convey where you could use help. This empowers each contact in your network to share that information with their contacts. Here are some of the many reasons it helps:

  1. Jobs: The jobs listed in online job portals, newspapers, trade journals, and employment offices represent only about 25% of the actual jobs available at that time. Most jobs are part of the informal job market that is not advertised or listed through formal channels. Professional Networking helps reach those 75% job opportunities which are not in the public domain. If you do a dipstick check of the top 5 tech jobs in sites like Monster or Dice, the number of openings does not reflect the ground reality.
  2. Self Confidence: You can get out of your comfort zone and preconceived notions when you meet & talk to new people from diverse backgrounds. In the process of doing this, you get a chance to open your mind to new ways of thinking.   
  3. Meet a Cofounder: You could meet someone who shares your passions, and you both end up doing business together.
  4. Sales Referrals: The more people who know you and your business, the higher referral potential you have. Every new contact you make and talk to about your business adds another person to your sales force. 
  5. Knowledge Sharing: The more people you meet to share what you know, the more you increase your chances of others sharing what they know.
  6. Small Business entrepreneurs are very likely to have an extended network because of resource challenges in the initial stages and have no choice but to look to their network for help. They often record new client acquisition as between 60 and 100 % through networking or referrals. They also use these channels to hire great employees or get vendor referrals.
  7. Personal Branding: Making connections and communicating your strengths is a time tested way to stay ahead of the individual branding game – networking facilitates the process. 

There is a quote that says, “The bigger your network, the bigger your net worth.” Increase your net worth is not only about money – it means you are very resourceful at helping your friends, family & business with positive prompt solutions.

There is a quote that says, “The bigger your network, the bigger your net worth.” Increase your net worth is not only about money – it means you are very resourceful at helping your friends, family & business with positive prompt solutions.

Professional Networking

5. Professional Networking – when will it fail?

There are these sure-fire ways of being permanently stuck in a low-gain, high-input set of activities in your networking attempts:

  1. Being focused on self-gain, no process, no consistency.
  2. Networking will fail if you are not genuine about building relationships and looking for short term gains. 
  3. While attending a “networking event,” where you enter and immediately start handing out business cards hoping to meet a client. This leads to an often uncomfortable atmosphere where people are basically cold calling face-to-face, collecting cards, and then returning to the office to spam the people you met.

In summary, Professional Networking is about farming not hunting. Sow the seeds of a relationship with your first meeting, sustain and care for it over time to bear fruit. It is a marathon, not a 100 mts sprint. 

Talking about Professional Networking and not mentioning the world’s largest digital networking place – Linkedin, would make this article incomplete. But that’s for another time – everything written here can be accomplished through digital means!

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Prashant S
Prashant is a Technology Industry Veteran with experience of over 20 years in the field. He loves reading and music, and when he has time, he blogs about all things technology and life. He loves his cup of sugarless black tea and is a religious 5k runner.

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