Want to get the most success out of your networking efforts? Of course you do! One of the key things to remember is that networking is an activity that you can engage in all the time. It’s true that the main function of networking is to boost your career, but if you limit your networking efforts only to business functions, then you’re tying one arm behind your back. Learn to integrate networking into all aspects of your life, though, and you’ll be much further ahead of the game.
Include Networking Activities In Your Daily Routine
Have you ever met someone new in a social situation? Maybe even stayed in touch? That’s the essence of networking. There are many kinds of networks in our lives: Social, family, and business, to name a few. Each of them are as vital to us as another. Many times, too, there’s a significant amount of overlap between the types of networks. Think about the following, and don’t be afraid to use them as jumping off points — or think of your own tips entirely!
There’s no denying that volunteering for a cause you believe in leaves you with great feelings at the end of your time. What many people forget, though, is that it’s also a great way to get some networking in. There’s nothing wrong with volunteering and meeting new people at the same time. If you work in a volunteer activity that you’re interested in, it’ll also give you a chance to meet people who may well occupy a key role in your professional network. There are a couple of tricks to remember, though: Just be yourself; be completely natural. And don’t go in with an agenda. That way you’ve got nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
2. Leverage Happy Hour
What’s such a big part of business culture, yet is also such an underutilized networking opportunity because so many people feel guilty about taking part in it? That’s right — happy hour. At first blush it might seem like a guilty pleasure. Yet it’s also a perfect networking opportunity. There’s no telling who you’re going to bump into at the pub after work, and there’s no problem having an impromptu business meeting if you meet up with some like-minded professionals. Just be careful, as alcohol can, and often does relax inhibitions. So it’s not usually a good idea to set anything in stone over a handful of margaritas. At the same time, though, it’s a great opportunity to learn about people you might want to network with on a more personal or casual level.
3. Make Use of Social Media
Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, MeetUp and countless others — these days it’s hard to find anyone under the age of 80 who doesn’t have an account on at least one of these services. Although Facebook started its journey aimed at college kids, it has now branched out into the business world. LinkedIn serves that world exclusively. Google+ adds local information to the mix, and MeetUp provides information about social and professional groups in your local area. And most, if not all of these services are completely free to use. They’re easy to shift into the business end of things if you’ve been using them for personal reasons. They’re especially great if you’ve got some name recognition in your area. And if you don’t, they’re a great way of building it. The trick here is just doing it.
Networking might seem like a hassle, but it gets easier the more you do it. And the more you do it, the easier it is to make part of your daily routine. If you have trouble, though, drop by a Culture-FX event so we can help you with your networking skills!