They say it’s not what you know, but who you know. When it comes to advancing your career, having connections to the right people can give you an edge.
Networking is a great way to strengthen relationships with people you already know and make new connections. Some people are natural networkers and others struggle. Here are a few tips to master the art of networking.
1. Ask for an introduction.
Even if you have no problem walking up to someone you don’t know to strike up a conversation, it’s beneficial to ask someone who knows the person you’d like to meet for an introduction. This will give you more credibility and makes the encounter more memorable.
2. Find the connection.
Even if it’s not apparent right away, we all have something in common. Instead of cutting right to the chase to say you’re job searching, have a conversation first. People want to hire someone they can connect with. Have a few anecdotes on standby to ease into the conversation. Make your interaction more interesting by including personal stories.
3. Prepare an elevator pitch.
If you’re job searching, prepare a 30-second conversational pitch to not only help sell your skills set, but to be able to answer that dreaded question, “tell me a little about yourself.”
4. Make people feel special.
When talking with people, look into their eyes, repeat their name, and listen to what they have to say. Be a conversationalist, not a talker. When you’re unsure where to take the conversation next, ask easy-to-answer questions, such as, “have you been to this event before?”
5. Take notes.
After meeting someone, make notes about your conversations that you can reference later – possibly directly on the contact’s business card. Mention something specific about the conversation when reconnecting via email or phone.
The more you network, the more confident you’ll be. Practice with your co-workers by walking around the office and striking up a conversation.