If the idea of networking makes you groan, you may not be alone, sis. In the eyes of many, networking is just seen as an additional task to check off an ever-growing professional to-do list. However, it is actually a highly beneficial step on the road to improving your personal branding that should not be ignored.
It’s time to let go of any old ideas about networking being ‘sleazy’ or ‘disingenuous,’ and instead, recognize it as a tool to build new relationships funded on trust, shared intention, and of course as a way to improve your personal brand.
As LifeHack reports, there are several things to bear in mind to become the “master networker” you were born to be.
1. KNOW YOUR “WHY?”
Before you begin networking, start by asking yourself what your ultimate intention is in trying to make connections in the first place. Are you interested in learning more about your chosen field? Are you interested in putting your products in people’s hands? Do you need to connect with a retailer? Figuring out this answer in advance is going to save you time and put you in the right place in front of the right people.
2. BE YOURSELF
The people you are networking with weren’t born yesterday, and putting up a false front is pretty transparent and typically a big turn off. You want to make sure that you’re able to authentically connect with others, and even though it may seem counter-intuitive, being yourself is truly the best way to stand out from a crowd of people who are wanting the same thing as you.
Avoid putting business upfront, and allow your conversations to flow naturally, as if you were speaking to a friend. Let your guard down, and watch others do the same.
3. KNOW YOUR STUFF
There’s nothing worse than going to an event and not knowing the basic information about the people or the company you’re there to meet. Not a good look, sis! Before you hit that event, be sure to check out the company website, social media sites, LinkedIn profiles, etc., so that you have an entry-point into conversations and don’t get stumped on basic questions. Having key information in your pocket is key in coming across professionally.
4. STAY IN TOUCH
After returning to the “regular” world, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget to follow up with your contacts — don’t let this happen! Remember, you put a significant amount of effort into making your connections, so don’t let them slip away by forgetting to send an Email, sending a friend request, etc.
And no — it’s not annoying to follow up, so let that go, sis. If you do feel this way, in your follow up try offering some helpful information or even a compliment on a recent post of theirs, for example, to help lower the pressure.
As you can see, networking doesn’t have to be painful — it can actually be fun! Try working these tips into your next networking opportunity, and let us know how it goes — we would love to hear!
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