Nobody built their empire in a day, and most definitely, not on their own. Even the most independent professionals need the help of a colleague, a mentor, or a friend when the going gets tough. The power of networking will not just give you an easier life, it can pave the way for you to land your dream job, score a promotion, and become close with the leaders in your industry. To sum it up, knowing the right people can get you places that you might not reach otherwise.
Expanding your contacts is simple if you’re a natural social butterfly, but if you’re at the opposite end of the spectrum, things may not be as easy. You need to have the patience, the time, and energy to keep up with the people you meet. Ready your business cards and your phone’s contact list, and try these simple, tried and tested tips to build your directory the right way.
Here are the five cardinal rules on how to network like a pro.
1. Be sincere.
People, especially the smart ones, know when you’re walking the talk or just blabbering. Always mean what you say, and never pretend to be someone you are not. Do a favor before you ask for one. Or just be kind and do something for them without expecting anything in return. This is how you gain their trust, and that is something every relationship (professional or otherwise) needs to last for a long time.
2. Image is the key.
Aside from impressing them with your sincerity, it’s time to match that smart brain to a stylish body. You should dress to impress, but never forget to do it appropriately. Use professional-looking business cards (but it doesn’t mean you can’t be creative about it), so people will have a way to contact you. More than dressing the part, you have to make yourself visible. According to an article from Business Insider, if people don’t know who you are, you can’t start building those important relationships. One way to do this? Let your work speak for you. Or, you can attend as many events as you can and mingle afterwards.
3. Always keep in touch.
In other words, follow up. Don’t keep your new contacts (or business cards) tucked away, never seeing the light of day. Drop a line, send a simple email greeting, or even comment on their social networking sites—these are just a few ways to let your network know you think of them more as friends and not just as a milking cow. This is also a nice way to update your directory, and letting them know that your contact details are still active.
Networking experts say having a diverse network is just as important as having a large network. If you just stick to the people who are similar to you (i.e. same office, same location), then it defeats the purpose of expanding your horizon. Reaching out to different people will eventually put you in touch with those you would never have met otherwise, and you’ll miss out on those who will be able to help you in different, and possibly, better ways.
5. Balance the virtual and the real world.
Thanks to the Internet and technology, it’s now easier to meet new people. You can become friends with someone with just one click (or a swipe), and everything else done online (I personally have people I haven’t met yet in person, but I’ve been in constant contact with). But to build a stronger relationship, you have to put in some effort in meeting them, at least once.
This story was published in Metro July 2015 issue and authored by Anzenne Roble. Metro is available in bookstores and on newsstands for P175. Like them on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Metro.Magazine) and follow them on Twitter and Instagram (@MetroMagPH).