Early on in my career, I tried to leverage the power of networking, but realized that no one was ever going to open the door of opportunity for me. In order for me to truly be successful (i.e. make more money, transition into higher authority roles, and eventually run my own company) I knew I would have to take it upon myself to make it happen.
So, rather than “networking” my way through my career, I worked really hard and I found that the harder I worked, the luckier I got. I met some amazing entrepreneurs and senior execs who taught me some valuable lessons along the way too.
More specifically, networking only ever became something I valued once I was near the point of taking the plunge into being my own boss full-time. How? Well, I’ve found that people now reach out to me to help connect them to other entrepreneurs or senior execs that I worked with in the past.
Additionally, I found it easier to have deeper conversations with previous/current mentors and colleagues – finding a point of commonality – rather, than just seeking their advice.
Whether you’re a young professional, just getting started, an entrepreneur finding your way or a working professional looking for a career change, here are a few simple tips to help you leverage the power of networking:
1) Be Authentic
We’ve all had that one “friend” who only ever comes to you when they need something and that’s the only time you ever hear from them, right?
Whatever you do, don’t become that friend, especially with professional networking.
Being authentic means that you genuinely want to get to know other people. In other words, the thought of, “What can this person do for me?” should be the last thing that crosses your mind in terms your intentions with networking. Instead, take the time to learn about them, what they do, their challenges, and how you might be able to help them.
2) Be Helpful to Others
To piggyback off of my first point, find ways that you can give to others. This is much more memorable than being the person who only ever takes from others.
Be open to helping others excel with their business or their career. Of course, be cognizant of the fact that you shouldn’t just help anyone and everyone who crosses your path, but do so with other like-minded professionals. This is a great way to ensure that you stay on their radar should they ever need someone with your field of expertise or know of a company that does.
3) Stay Hungry
Don’t sit and wait around for your network to do all of the heavy lifting when it comes to your own personal growth. Come up with your own game plan and how you will execute it to push for greatness.
One of the best ways to do this is to make sure you are always learning. This is key to staying on top of current trends within your industry and can help inspire the creative process with positioning yourself as an authority or thought leader.
Be crystal clear on what you want to achieve and, more importantly, write it down. A study found that people who wrote down their goals were more likely to accomplish them and earn 10 times more than those who didn’t.
4) Start Your Own Blog
Showcase your expertise by simply starting your very own blog. This has helped me tremendously throughout the years. I’ve had multiple senior execs and professionals who have reached out to me because they stumbled upon my blog. Some of these connections have turned into great client relationships that I’ve continued to maintain for years now.
Your blog can also be used as a way to show potential employers and/or clients what you have to offer. There’s a stat that states, “57% of the buyer journey takes place before ever talking to a sales rep.” This too, can be applied in this situation such that you want to provide people with a compelling reason to reach out to you; content is the best way to do this.
For networking to truly be effective, you must make the investment needed in yourself. Next, be present at relevant local and national events to meet like-minded professionals. And lastly, find ways you can make a memorable impression by helping others first before seeing what they can do for you.
Have more suggestions? Share them with me.