networking [net-wurk-ng] : Creating a group of acquaintances and associates and keeping it active through regular communication for mutual benefit.
You’ve heard the term before. After all, networking can surely be counted among the greatest business buzzwords. No matter the industry, there is a high likelihood that the act of creating and maintaining a network is a necessary tool for developing your career.
In fact, according to a recent survey by Lou Adler, an estimated 85% of jobs are filled through networking – even for the most active job-seekers. (Check out the full survey breakdown on LinkedIn.)
It is hardly a surprise, then, that networking is such a hot topic for students of the Corporate Residency MBA program. As such, we have compiled a list of top networking tips that may help you develop your own connections.
Many networking opportunities can actually occur outside of formal events: consider informational interviews, guest speakers, or even chance meetings on the street. Have your elevator pitch and business cards ready for any such interaction. You never know who might become a valuable addition to your network.
Know your goals
Consider ahead of time what you really want to get out of networking opportunities. Do you wish to meet professionals from a particular industry? Perhaps learn more about a particular skill? Do you have a specific individual that you wish to meet? Don’t be afraid to be strategic; determining your goals will make your networking that much more effective.
Make conversations matter
Given the number of interactions that take place at a networking event, it can be difficult to stand out. Aim to have meaningful and authentic conversations to leave a more memorable impression. Again, be strategic: know who you wish to speak with, what questions you wish to ask, and what information you wish to impart.
Ask more questions
People love to talk about themselves. Don’t bombard a new connection with too many facts about yourself; instead, learn more about them by asking questions. This is a great opportunity to gain knowledge about their job, industry, and accomplishments. Even better, your interest will be noticed.
Use the business cards
Handing out your own cards is valuable, of course, but here’s another tip: in a moment of quiet after making a new connection, jot down some notes on the card they just gave you. This will allow you to be more specific when following up.
Watch your drinking
Alcohol is frequently paired with networking events, which makes it especially important to be deliberate about your consumption. While one drink may help ease your nerves, increased consumption can significantly decrease your inhibitions and professionalism. It should go without saying but please, drink responsibly.
Just do it
Networking has become an essential skill. While meeting new people can be difficult for the more introverted, pushing yourself outside your comfort zone will allow you to meet valuable contacts. The more often you practice your networking, the easier it will become. At the end of the day, you’ll thank yourself for striking up those conversations.