Did you know that 80% of professionals agree that professional networking was essential to their career’s success? That statistic means having the right contacts in your phonebook could make the difference between success and failure in your career. Developing great contacts isn’t easy though. It’s hard finding useful contacts, and it’s even harder to develop a professional relationship with them enough to benefit from the contact. Yet, by following these 3 tips, you’ll have everything you need to make networking a breeze.
What is professional networking?
Professional networking refers to meeting and making connections with other professionals, especially in your industry. You can build your professional networks through in-person interactions or online connections via platforms like LinkedIn. What’s important is to have a mutual understanding that you could help each other and a way to contact the other party.
The purpose of professional networking is to create mutually beneficial business relationships between individuals. For example, if you’re a professional photographer, you could develop a professional relationship with a wedding planner. Wedding planners often need professional photographers, so you would both benefit from being in contact with each other.
Networking might sound stressful or difficult, but it doesn’t need to be when you use these 3 tips!
1. Be Helpful
Other people are likeliest to help you either when you’ve already helped them or when they know you could if they needed it. To justify asking someone else for a favor, you should be able to return a favor to them. You don’t have to instantly return their favor, but the other party should always feel that you will if called upon to do that.
The best way to be helpful is to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in a particular area or field. You just have to prove that you can provide a tangible benefit to other people. For example, if you work in finance and ask your business owner friend for a lawyer, you could return that favor by connecting them to a great accountant when they need one.
Your contacts will maintain long-term connections with you when they know you’re both willing and able to reciprocate. Over time, they’ll even be willing to provide you with bigger and bigger favors as long as they trust you to do the same.
For example, if you’re a corporate lawyer, your mentor could refer you to their corporate clients or at least connect you with them. You’ll be able to use those connections to then advance your own career. The biggest benefit of mentorship for networking is that your mentor will likely connect you with the most relevant people for your specific field or industry.
2) Find a Mentor
A mentor is an experienced member of your industry whom you can ask for guidance and training. Having a mentor has numerous large professional benefits but having a mentor is especially important for networking. Since your mentor is a veteran of your industry, they’ll likely have many relevant contacts for your industry they can introduce you to.
3) Meet lots of people
The best way to have an ever-expanding, and increasingly useful, professional network is to always meet new people and connect with them. Being sociable is naturally one of the most useful things for anyone who wants a large professional network. So, try to connect with as many new people as you can. You don’t have to meet 100 people per day, just try to make at least 5 useful new connections every month.
In conclusion, professional networking is just about building good reciprocal relationships with other people. The best way to make networking easy is to reciprocate other people’s favors, find an industry-relevant mentor, and meet lots of new people in your industry.