Networking is a conversation designed to construct a relationship, understand each other’s goals and objectives, help find solutions, and generate leads.
Networking is an art. Building relationships takes time, patience, drive and determination. It doesn’t happen overnight. Yet if you’re like many of my executive career coaching clients, you may not always feel enthusiastic about networking, especially when summer fun is tempting you away.
Here are three ways to keep the spark alive in your networking:
Remember why you’re networking
Did you know that just under 80% of jobs in Canada are found as a result of networking? In fact, North America is the most networked society in the world. Entire businesses and careers are formed around this art.
I’ve clearly seen that my clients who network with defined goals, both when gainfully employed and in career transition, advance their career considerably faster than those who don’t.
Networking is even more effective if you take an opportunistic approach and are willing to expand your horizons. An introduction may not bring value right now, but can reap significant rewards down the road.
Notice when you’re networking
We all network unconsciously in our daily lives, e.g., building rapport with the cashier at your local grocery or corner store. As they get to know you, and you them, often a deeper relationship evolves, where perhaps the conversation advances to family, hobbies, and your career.
These casual exchanges can feel much more natural than business networking settings. Notice the things that make it easier to communicate and build rapport, and make a conscious effort to replicate those methods at your next business event.
Remember that the people you meet in your personal life also have an extensive network. Put them all together and there is no doubt you can find someone who works at your target employer, or knows someone who does.
Breathe new life into old relationships
Consistency is important in all your career management activities, including networking. Yet if you’ve been attending the same events, how do you have a fresh conversation with someone you’ve already spoken to so many times?
Breathe new life into your conversations with fun, engaging questions that help you discover things about the other person.
In between events, use social media and other web research to keep track of people’s promotions, projects, publications and events, and of industry news you can discuss together.
How many new people did you meet this week? How many existing connections did you re-engage?