The Art of Fearless Networking Without the Small Talk

Network! It’s likely we’ve all been told to do this throughout our professional careers, and yet it remains a laborious, fear-inducing task for many of us. Whether you’re looking for your next role or simply trying to build relationships, the memo is incredibly loud. Networking leads to success.

There is no denying that expanding your network is one of the best ways to accelerate your career growth. After all, your professional network can assist in establishing new opportunities you otherwise wouldn’t have access to. And let’s face it, oftentimes it is not what you know, it’s who you know that can help propel your career into its next phase. 

The good news is that networking can be authentic and a path to molding professional relationships with mutual benefits. So before you send that next meeting request, here are some ways you can master the art of connecting with people beyond the small talk.

Do your research.

How much do you know about the person you are about to connect with? Do they have a LinkedIn profile or Twitter account? Have you familiarised yourself with their website? Perhaps they have a podcast? Either way, to get the most out of your interaction, arm yourself with a good understanding of how the individual can successfully help you.

Send an agenda in advance

Oftentimes, people who take the time out to engage with you, want to feel that you appreciate their efforts. Chances are you’ve identified this person as someone who can help you to develop steps and activities towards your goals, so be strategic. Don’t wait until you discover you have a need, have an agenda ready. What are you hoping to achieve by forming this connection? What are your objectives?

Unfortunately, time is precious to many of us and ongoing interactions shouldn’t be expected. By outlining your order of business beforehand, you have the capability to guide the conversation.

Be Creative

While getting together in-person may not be the option of choice right now, continuing to build your network, engage with people who can advocate for you, mentor you, and share information with you, doesn’t have to come to a standstill. To create a supportive network akin to these qualities, be prepared to be intentional and step outside of your comfort zone. We’re talking about a game plan! 

First, ensure your profile is up to date. What’s the first thing you want people to see or know about you? Before you reach out via DM, perhaps make meaningful contributions by liking a post, commenting and adding to the conversation. 

Commit to networking outside the box and evolve beyond awkward silences, hotel ballrooms, and snore-fest cocktail hours. 

Go beyond "the ask"

Think of your networking meeting as an opportunity to learn, rather than asking to be hired. Be curious about the person you are talking to. Have your questions ready so that the conversation has structure, but you’re still giving the majority of the talk time to the other person. Focus on recognising additional connections and building future relationships. Asking for an introduction is an easier request for someone to accept, and growing your network organically, means you can gain a wider viewpoint and have less need to rely on previous connections. 

Give back to your professional network

What can YOU offer this person? How can your career journey/experience help them? What do you have to offer them in this relationship? The best networking relationships are mutually beneficial for both parties. Identify the value you bring to the relationship before you reach out! Keep it in your back pocket for that conversation!

Say thank you!

Quite simply, showing your gratitude and acknowledging the transaction between you and the individual in question, can help to reinforce connections. By all means, don’t feel compelled to send a lengthy heartfelt message after meeting someone new, but do consider sending a personalised thank you message within a timely manner. In fact, it may even be a good time to demonstrate that you followed-up on the advice given to you. Nonetheless, exhibiting respect for their time, could be the difference between an ongoing connection and a one-time conversation.

Lastly, don’t be modest! A LinkedIn study found that 51% of professionals prefer non-traditional networking, and you’ve probably gathered by now that networking comes in all shapes, forms and sizes. Networking events, establishing an online presence, perhaps even volunteering and working alongside those with similar interests. There really is no right or wrong way to network, there are a plethora of ways to meet people, just remember to be kind, appreciative and pay it forward! 

Learning how to lead a conversation can sometimes seem daunting, follow @TheHumphreyGroup  on LinkedIn for resources on how to speak as a leader in all your communications.

 

 

 

 

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