“Networking is fundamental to how I run my business and how I create relationships. I love Networking because it has given me so many amazing opportunities and experiences in my life and I have met some incredibly inspiring and nurturing individuals with the advent of social media. I learn something each day with every connection. Networking is something we all can use. Networking is something we all need. Networking is something we can all improve upon.” Bobby Umar
Notice that Umar did not say networking is how he builds/grows his business. He said it was how he runs his business and creates relationships. The key to “successful” networking is first understanding what it is – the roadmap to strong rewarding ongoing personal and professional relationships. Networking is an opportunity to give and share. Certainly, networking can connect you with job and career opportunities, but that is one of the results of good networking, not the reason for it.
Networking is no longer an option, but an essential part of at least your professional life. It is the only way to establish professional compelling brand and put yourself in line with industry leaders. So, how do you successfully network?
• Understand first who you are, your value, what you have to offer others, and why you are here, at this time, in this industry.
• Once you understand what you have to give, give, and give freely. Be a listener, offer support, share your experience, be a bridge that connects people you know with other people you know. If you own a business, don’t be about selling . . . be about connecting and giving, about making present and potential customers have a happier day.
• Make a plan and stay focused. What are your interests; your personal passions, goals, purpose? Plan a step-by-step sequence – it’s easier and far less stressful to complete one step, before tackling the next. Whether you set aside a specific time each week to connect through LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, post articles(with your thoughts added), join an online discussion, or attend a once/month networking event, find a plan that works well with your personality and stay committed.
• Turn connections into relationships. When you connect with someone new, follow up. Send them an article of interest, if they’re local, meet for coffee, help them with a project, etc. Every situation is different, but there is always a way to build on the initial connection. Keep a spreadsheet of connections. Include where you met them, what they do, conversation notes, when you last connected, etc.
• Make lists. Make a list of people you want to meet. Make a list of ideas worth sharing. Make a list of what you have to offer others. Make a list of industry leaders you would willingly promote to others. Read your lists and keep them in your mind. It’s like practicing the interview questions before an interview. If you have a solid grasp of who you are, where you’re going, whom you want to meet, and how you can help others, you will be ready to connect when the opportunities arrive.
• Be proactive. Your network depends upon you. Initiate the conversation. Post an answer or leave a comment online. Ask for advice. Offer advice. Be the match that started the fire.
• Be authentic and transparent. We’re not talking about dumping everything and anything to anybody. We’re talking about realness. Being in actual relationships what you promised in your branding. Walking the talk – with integrity.
• Stretch your boundaries. Don’t limit your connections to people who sit, stand, walk, and talk just like you. Be open to others from diverse perspectives. Listen to the voice, experiences, interests, and insights of others; share yours. To make the most of a network, you must sincerely like people and enjoy helping others when you are able. You will become a more-rounded person. You will also know how to stand on your own ideas and beliefs without crushing someone else’s.
Understanding networking and using it proficiently is an essential professional growth strategy. Here at Springborn Staffing, we want to help others grow. Contact us today. We will help you expand your network and connect with the right business or candidate in Bangor or Portland, Maine.