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Tag Archives: how to network

tips for successful networking

Even if you’re not looking for a new job, networking is still a valuable pursuit. It’s a chance to learn more about your industry, the jobs you didn’t know existed in your field, how to advance your career, or how to start your own business. For some people, networking can feel like shallow interactions that are barely masking the attitude of “what can you do for me?” but this doesn’t need to be the case. With a positive disposition and helpful strategies in place, networking can be the start of a nurturing, collaborative, trustworthy community for you.

Practice your intro

You may not be selling a product or an idea, but in networking scenarios, you need to market your skills and talent. When people ask you about your job title and your pursuits, have a clear, short summary ready to go. Practice it in the mirror or record yourself, if you can; hearing your voice played back can help you determine where to pause or when to punch up your pitch for optimal recollection, for you and your potential contacts.

Set goals for yourself

Networking goals will vary between people and industries, but it is important to set them. It’s far too easy to sweep that type of work under the rug, but setting goals will keep you accountable. Create goals that are achievable: attend at least one networking event within the next month, reach out to three new people in your industry, or schedule a meeting with an existing contact. Once you meet those goals, make new ones.

Treat every encounter as important, because it is

While it is easy to think of networking as a means to a new job, there is more to be gained from these interactions. Don’t dismiss someone because they can’t help you right now: the benefit of continued communication could come around in three months or three years. Keep in mind that they could also introduce you to someone else who needs your skills.

Follow up

After you meet these new contacts, you need to reach out before they start collecting dust. Use the method of communication that works for both of you: phone, email, Skype, or face-to-face. Check in regularly and ask them about what they’re working on, what projects they see for the near future, and the skills and experience needed to complete their work. If your skills don’t align with their needs, you might recommend someone from your network. Consistent, thoughtful communication will hopefully result in contacts thinking of you when relevant opportunities come across their desk.

Bring people together

As you your network grows and you learn about the skills and needs of your contacts, you may realize that one needs the services of the other. This is what networking is all about: helping people connect. Hopefully, they will get a chance to repay the favor: when one of those contacts comes across a job posting or freelance opportunity in your field, you know they will think of you first.

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Selling your wow factor

The other day I ran into a former colleague of mine who recently made a pretty big career transition. When I asked her what the main contributing factor to her success was, she told me it was her ability to put herself out there and sell her strengths to potential employers. Here was someone who had no experience in her newly chosen field, but was able to easily snag a job.

I know, selling yourself sounds intimidating, right? But in today’s workplace, you have to be able to peddle what you preach. As Liz Ryan, CEO and Founder of Human Workplace, says, “You’re going to sell yourself over and over during your career, and you’re going to sell your ideas, too. You sell yourself every day on the job — not just when you’re job-hunting. Your boss and the rest of the people you work with don’t form an initial opinion of you and leave it at that. You sell yourself in every interaction.”

This may seem challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few tips to help you successfully sell your “wow” factor:

Be a Storyteller:

Think up 3 stories that showcase your key strengths and make them authentic to you. Who knows the topic of you better than YOU? For example, let’s say your strengths are in collaboration, communication and creativity. These can be pretty broad statements alone, so weave some intimate stories that prove you have these skills. And don’t shy away from personal as well as professional accomplishments. Training for and completing a marathon can be just as important as implementing a new process at the office in showcasing your talents.

Practice Your Stories:

Get out there and meet people! This is a great way to practice telling your personal story. The more you do this the more confident you will be and the easier it will be to stand out from the competition.

Be a Good Listener Too:

When you are selling your brand, make sure you keep the audience in mind. Remember that you are trying to fill a need. “Good selling requires listening and aligning yourself with another person’s needs,” says Ryan.

You don’t have to be afraid to market yourself with poise. Being genuine will go a long way with any interaction. With a little self-reflection and practice, you can have your “wow” factor and sell it too.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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