Before our age of technology, people networked the old fashioned way. Handshakes, business meetings, lunches, golf outings, etc. Everything happened in person, which lead to fewer connections but stronger ones. Today, people are using social media all over the world to stay connected, which usually translates to a higher quantity of networking connections but a lower quality. Social media can even be used to maintain networking connections over time, which is highly beneficial for any career. However, not every career is dependent on a strong professional network, but most are. Good networkers must be charismatic, professional, dedicated, and reputable. Have you tried building up your professional network? Hurry, because you are running out of time and potential business connections.
1.) Cut the Fat
As always, when building a professional network, you need to focus on new connections as well as old ones. This means connecting with people you may have known in the past. However, if they are not the most reputable of characters, it might not be advantageous to display a public connection to that person. For example, let’s say you have an old friend you used to be around regularly in your teenage years, but you took different paths. Theirs happened to be the “low road”. When people are searching your connections, which they often do, they might just happen to come across the dishonorable charter you associate yourself with. Guilt by association can be a powerful concept, so you want to make sure that every connection you make is a good one. If not, ignore the friend request. They can’t do anything for your professional career anyways, so why risk it?
2.) Charisma and Character
Networking can happen in many forms. Whether it’s a lunch meeting with clients or a round of connecting on LinkedIn, the same rules apply. Always be confident, and do your best to show off your positive attitude. Charisma is also important, especially for face-to-face networking events. There is no more approachable person at a networking event than one who is confident and charismatic, because they are not only more approachable but also easier to talk to. If your main focus is strengthening your professional network, it’s essential to master these two personality traits. They will make networking a whole lot easier.
3.) Be Professional
Networking events are designed to provide a relaxing atmosphere, but that does not mean you should get too comfortable. It’s all about bettering the interests of not only your company or whichever organization you are affiliated with, but also strengthening your future career prospects. Cocktail hour? Stick to a drink or two. Do not be the person who is feeling their alcohol by the end of the night. People will remember you, and not for the right reasons. Networking is all about building your personal brand, and maintaining a professional attitude at all times will help immensely. One dumb mistake can derail years of networking progress.
4.) Quality Not Quantity
This concept applies more to internet networking methods, but still applies to in-person networking as well. You want to always focus on the quality of your connections, because one good connection can be worth more than a hundred bad ones. This will require some screening and light research on your networking targets, but it’s worth the time investment. Focusing on higher-quality connections will lead to a stronger network, and will assist in furthering your career interests.