More than 30% of job applicants find new opportunities through referrals and professional connections. Successful networking can open doors to unexpected opportunities that would otherwise prove out of reach. However, you should understand the differences between networking and randomly meeting new people on a night out. Below are a few things you should know to benefit from successful networking.
How to Make Networking Easier
Starting conversations with new people in an organized setting is certainly nerve-wracking. Introverts specifically find it challenging to approach and chat with strangers. However, you should proactively reach out to others to find new opportunities, investors, partners, and employees. Networking is also a primary tool for businesses to gather feedback. Below are a few ways you can make networking easier:
- Prepare appropriate conversation openers – you should consider the context of your networking opportunity and prepare in advance.
- Ask follow-up questions – asking follow-up questions helps keep the conversation alive after the introduction statements. Take advantage of the fact that most people like talking about themselves. While at it, be an active listener and deploy tactical empathy.
- Don’t give up – like other skills; you get better with networking skills with more practice.
Finding the Right People When Networking
While connections are beneficial, knowing the right people to connect with can prove challenging. Below are some tips for finding the right people when networking:
- Visualize your goals – networking is only beneficial if you know your goals for networking. Knowing what you want to achieve helps you focus on meeting the right people.
- Research professionals before meeting them – technology and social media have made it easier to find out more about professionals before contacting them.
- Focus on developing friendships – networking becomes easier if you focus on becoming friends. Interact with people socially before advancing your requests.
Importance of Networking and Making Connections
Networking is beneficial in the following ways:
- Presents new opportunities – connecting with new people opens the door for new career and business opportunities.
- Support from high-profile persons
- Boosts self-confidence – meeting and interacting with new people builds self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Develops long-lasting beneficial relationships – while networking might prove difficult at first, mutual connections can lead to long-lasting relationships, which might benefit your career or business.
- It makes you noticeable – those seeking publicity for business or political benefits can leverage networking.
Networking is good for job seekers and entrepreneurs. However, most people make the mistake of networking only when they urgently need something. Ideally, you should network before there’s a need to network. Doing this allows you to connect naturally with different people in your field without your networks thinking you want to use them.