How to become better in networking
Whether you’re a new graduate looking to change careers or even a seasoned professional, growing your network is never a bad idea. Unfortunately, networking can be daunting, especially for the more introverted crowd. And with social distancing over the last couple of years, even the most bubbly of personalities might feel a little out of practice with their social and networking skills.
6 Ways to Incorporate Networking into your Daily Life
- Dress with intention
- Pay attention to your body language
- Practice active listening
- Friendly greetings
- Introduce yourself
- Follow up and reciprocate
Dress with intention
Instead of reaching for Friday night’s sweat suit, try a more polished look. Now don’t think you need to get dressed to the nines but do take pride in your appearance. This includes a well-fitting and coordinated outfit, practicing proper hygiene and even just carrying yourself with confidence. Taking pride in your appearance can indicate you take pride in your work, a quality always welcome.
Pay attention to your body language
Body language is imperative to how our messages and words come across. Studies have found that non-verbal communication conveys 55% of the meaning of our messages. 38% comes from our tone of voice and volume, leaving a mere 7% coming from the actual words spoken.
Be aware of your body language and how it might be perceived. You might be saying one thing, but your body tells a different story. Body language can be pretty involuntary. If you tend to have more closed body language, such as crossed arms, others might see you as stand-offish and unapproachable, even if that’s far from the truth. With open body language, others will see you as inviting and be drawn in by you
Practice active listening
Active listening isn’t just about hearing the other person’s words but fully understanding their message. Don’t interrupt unless you are asking clarifying questions or paraphrase their words to confirm your understanding.
When done successfully, active listening can help you understand the needs of others even when they don’t explicitly express them. Active listening is kind of similar to being a detective. Looking for the clues in their body language and vocal tone, you can uncover any business problems one might currently be enduring and who knows, you might just be the solution they need.
A great way to break the ice is a simple greeting. A friendly smile, wave and “hello” will suffice. This might not always lead to growing your network, but it’s a great way to get a conversation going. Practicing this in your everyday life can get you more comfortable talking to strangers and hopefully lead to some meaningful connections.
The conversation is no good if you leave without introducing yourself. If you don’t do well on the spot, create a brief introduction stating who you are and what you do.
Follow up and reciprocate
If you aren’t going to foster your connections outside of the initial introduction, then you are just wasting your time. If you happen to make a connection, ensure you follow up with them in a timely manner. When you fail to nurture these relationships, all you’re left with is a few more contacts in your address book. Consider asking those in your network out for coffee chats and maintaining communication through platforms like LinkedIn.
Both parties need to reciprocate equally. If you or the other person are offering more than receiving, this is not a mutually beneficial relationship.
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