Networking is interacting with others to develop work relationships. It can also be such an intimidating and overwhelming task to accomplish. Forcing yourself out of the little bubble you’re in can be scary, but it can also be very beneficial to your career. From networking, you can further your career, get a new job, gain a client, or land a new contract. Knowing the right people and having a good relationship with them can only help with your current situation.
The problem is understanding what steps need to be taken to achieve this. You can always start by getting involved with LinkedIn, seminars, and reaching out to others. Keep in mind that every interaction with a stranger is a networking opportunity. For example, talk with those waiting in the grocery check out line. They might have a similar job or have connections you may need at a later time.
Here are seven steps you could take to make your conversations more smooth and natural:
- Ask them to lunch or for a cup of coffee. This puts both of you at ease and now you’ll be in an environment that is more comfortable.
- Have an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a quick blurb about who you are and what you do. It is supposed to be short and enticing.
- Have talking points prepared. It’s easier to talk to others when you know some subjects to talk about. Have these prepared, but also do your research in these subjects so that you are well-informed.
- Know your audience. Nothing is more annoying than being stuck in a conversation with someone who doesn’t understand you. Do your research on others and pay attention to social cues.
- Talk about them. Ask them questions and get to know them. Be sure to listen carefully and take mental notes so that you can respond appropriately.
- Get rid of the business cards. They are an outdated method of sharing information and they just get thrown away. Instead, put your contact information in each other’s phones.
- Always follow up. Nothing shows that you are interested more than following up. Keep that connection going. It would be a perfect time to ask for that lunch date!
Take every chance you can get to make a new friend by utilizing the steps above. You’ll find how easy it is to form new and interesting relationships. Hopefully, some of these new friendships will lead you to new experiences and an even better career.