Power of business networking and how to improve

By Robert Half on 23rd February 2018

If you find your palms sweating at the thought of networking for business, you aren’t alone. Many professionals feel uncomfortable and even apprehensive at having to appear confident in front of a room filled with strangers, but learning to master business networking can unlock a wealth of advantages. 

Here are the reasons you should take the time to network, why it benefits you and how you can improve your networking skills easily.

Advantages of business networking

In the age of social media, it can be all too easy to believe that the art of networking is lost. Although you can grow a large online following, learning how to effectively network for business can substantially increase the number of new leads you generate—this is especially useful for entrepreneurs and start-ups

Networking is also a good way to get onto the fast track for your dream career. By attending events that align with your career goals for the year, you stand a greater chance of meeting someone who can help you get your foot in the door. 

How can you build a network of professionals?

The good news is that you already have one. Every manager, friend and colleague you’ve had in your lifetime is already within your network. You may find that after searching and adding them on a social media networking platform like LinkedIn, you’ve already got a substantial network behind you before you even begin.

You can expand this by asking yourself which kind of connections you’d like to make and what your career goal is. By defining these, you’ll be able to figure out which kind of connections you need to make to increase your chances of landing your dream job.

Tips for networking effectively

  • Quality over quantity

It can be hard not to labour under the misconception that working the room and collecting as many cards as possible is the best way to network effectively for business. Don’t be fooled—it might not be!

You can maximise the leads you generate from a networking event by knowing which kinds of connections you want to make and what you’d like to get out of it, then seeking out those people for meaningful conversations and a business card swap.

  • Be helpful

Business networking isn’t just about what you can get out of a contact, but what you can offer, too. When you finally find and shake hands with your ideal contact, try asking how you can help them, the results may pleasantly surprise you!

  • Ask insightful questions

Far from enduring an evening of small talk and awkward silences, business networking events are an opportunity to perfect your professional social skills. Ask insightful questions, such as which resources they like to use for career guidance, what they’d like to get out of the event and what they think of it so far. 

  • Remember to listen

Because there’s so much to take in at a business networking event, you may find that your mind starts to wander. This could be down to your preoccupation with trying to make the best contacts or simply trying to remember the name of the person you’re speaking to! 

Make an effort to listen so when you follow up your favourite leads, you have a personal detail to add, so the connection remains human and genuine. 

  • Follow up on your leads

It’s no use attending events and making connections if you never follow up on them. By downloading apps for business networking, like a business card scanner, you can easily store information you’ve connected for quick follow-up. The days of the humble rolodex are long gone.

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