How to: Network effectively
In these fast paced days of social media and Internet reliance, networking is easier than ever and there are more options and pathways for you to choose from.
Things you will need:
A Typed CV/ Business Plan/Project portfolio
Professional, smart work clothes
Organiser or diary
Step One: create your internet presence
Employers or partners like to be able to research their potential employees or work colleagues. If you have a blog about your business, trade or project then they can see instantly that you are passionate and dedicated.
Helpful tools are social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and WordPress. Depending on your needs, you probably won’t need to use all of these tools. If you are an aspiring professional, you will find it helpful to have a LinkedIn account. If you need to release announcements regularly then you will find Twitter most useful. Facebook is also a good overall tool to reach customers or potential cliental. If you need to release longer posts, or need a more creative platform then WordPress is a platform to create. Tumblr is useful for creative things that use a lot of photographs and it will also reach a younger, more diverse audience.
Step Two: step forward
Use any connections you already have such as family, friends, University alumni, etc. Be polite but friendly when enquiring after jobs or assistance. If you already know them, then seeming too formal will appear colder but if you have never met them then err on the side of politeness.
A short covering email with your CV or business plan will suffice. Be sure to include the links to your Internet presence so they can research you.
Step Three: into the unknown
If you exhaust your known acquaintances, which is most likely, then you will have to network further.
Going to conferences about your sector in business or events to do with your hobby or project will instantly put you in a room full of the people you need to meet. Be approachable but business-like. You may be talking to your future employer or the person who can help get your business off the ground.
Dress appropriately for the event.
Bring business cards or your CV or portfolio.
Make the first move. Introduce yourself politely and confidently to people. Make sure that you give them a firm handshake and look them directly in the eyes. Ask about their business, after all, you need to know how you can help them and they can help you. Giving a memorable first impression is vital. Don’t try too hard to be funny, you need to remain professional.
If you find someone that has something to offer, make sure you get their details. Write it in an organiser so they are not lost.
Give out your details as well. You may be useful to other people and they, in return, may help you in the future, remember your name or pass your information on as a helpful hardworking professional to their acquaintances. This widens your networking circle further.
Step Four: the follow through
If you have organised any meetings with potential contacts then make sure you go to them and behave in the way that is suitable for those circumstances.
If you have promised to do any favours for anyone, follow through with that. There is nothing more damaging than being that person who can’t be counted on.
If you have gained details from anyone, do not be afraid of contacting them. They gave you them for a reason. Again, be polite and professional to maintain an efficient impression, however, as you have already met them make sure to be open and friendly. Do not badger anyone for replies; give them time to reply before checking to see if they have actually received your email or letter.
Beware: some people will not reply just as when you apply for a job sometimes you don’t hear back.
Perseverance is the key. Don’t be discouraged. Networking and meeting people takes time just as setting up businesses does, finding the perfect job does and finishing that project does. Keep being proactive and maintain an active, enthusiastic profile and you will meet the people you need to meet and you will accomplish your goals.