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Tips for Developing your Networking Skills

The REAL Benefit of Networking

Everyone will tell you to network because the people you meet and come to know can play important roles in your career. However, that does not mean to network just for the sake of networking. Meeting a new professional colleague may involve nothing more than a handshake and short conversation. Over time you will build a professional network of people you have come to know, respect, from whom you can learn, and who share your professional values (e.g., work ethics, responsible, accountable, etc.). Not surprisingly, quality relationships with other professionals can lead to future professional opportunities. But building that network takes time. Not every person you meet will be someone you want in your professional network. As you meet, share, and learn from others about their careers you will determine which professionals you want in your network.

With a bit of practice, you too can be accomplished at networking. To get started be sure you have the following: a brief story about who you are, what you do, and (when appropriate) the opportunities you seek. These are just a few sentences conveyed with confidence. You will want a business card or some way to share contact information (some people use emails or share through Bluetooth), and a firm handshake. Being a good listener is key to learning and sorting out those you meet who you will want to talk with again. Since you have listened well, once you identify someone that you might like in your professional network do not hesitate to ask if you can stay in touch. Good luck!

Breakdown of a Networking Opportunity

The Introduction:

  • eye contact
  • firm handshake

The conversation:

  • initially, get to know a bit about the other person
  • in exchange, share somethings about you and (if appropriate) convey your goals and objectives

The closing:

  • share your contact info (business card, etc.)
  • handshake

 

Resources

Networking Tips for Wallflowers, WSJ.com/Accelerators, 3/13/14, by Elaine Wherry
“Networking isn’t about drinking, self-promotion and agendas. It’s about a collection of weak connections to draw upon when you hit a professional wall.”

Take Your Networking to the Next Level: Build Actual Relationships, Mashable.com, 1/8/14, by “Networking is about building relationships with people who can provide you with information, advice and contacts to help you find the right role in your job search.”

Improve Your Networking Skills — Right Now, Forbes.com, 1/24/13
“Networking is everything – it helps your chances of employment, increases your contacts and can help improve your business. Here are some tips and tricks to help improve your networking skills.”

How to Network with VIPs on LinkedIn, blog.LinkedIn.com, 8/23/12 by Lindsey Pollak
‘If you’re ready to network several rungs up the career ladder, here are some tips.”