11 tips for effective networking

17 Jan 2023

Digital marketing

Claire Crompton

Claire Crompton

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Networking is an essential skill for career development, but it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. If you want to begin networking but aren’t quite sure how to go about it, there are multiple networking techniques that you can try. Read on to discover our top tips for networking events and putting yourself out there professionally.

1) Start early

person holding alarm clock

It’s never too early to start trying to make professional connections. A top piece of advice is not to leave it too late, so that you don’t come across as desperate to potential connections. Networking should not be make or break, rather an opportunity to continue growing your career. By starting early, you can carefully plan and prioritise the best course of action for your career. Plus, you’ll keep gaining experience and relationships as time goes on. Focus on people who you can make valuable connections with, and start growing your network early to avoid seeming rushed.

2) Plan what you’re going to say

Preparation is key. Think about how you’re going to open, and what questions to ask. Some people are shy or suffer from social anxiety, but that doesn’t mean that everyone can’t network. By planning ahead and having some conversation starters or prompts in your mind, you can avoid any awkward moments. This will allow you to feel more comfortable, and you’ll have prepared any important facts that you need to know.

3) Treat everyone as important

It might be tempting to walk straight up to the person in the room with the most expensive clothes or impressive title. But, you could be missing out on valuable connections by overlooking other people. Even if someone’s job title is not particularly relevant to you, they may have other connections that could be useful. Plus, being courteous and polite to everyone you meet will develop a good reputation for yourself.

4) Consider how you can be useful to them

If you are speaking to a connection and aren’t sure where to go from the introduction, think about what you have to offer them. Even if you’re in completely unrelated fields, there may be a way for you to collaborate and create a new contact. For example, someone may need a proofreader for a big presentation that they have coming up. You could offer your services as someone with great written skills and attention to detail. In return, they may be able to help you further down the line or perhaps pass on your details to other connections. People will be much more likely to keep their connection with you if you have something to offer them.

5) Follow up

person texting on their phone to follow up with a networking connection

It can feel daunting to follow up with a connection you met at a networking event, especially if you made the first introduction. However, a polite, professional email or LinkedIn message will usually prompt a response. This will remind them who you are and make it less likely that you’ll be forgotten amidst the countless other professionals they may have also met. Strong professional relationships aren’t formed straight away – people will appreciate the time and effort that you take to follow up. Of course, if you don’t receive a response, don’t keep messaging. Sometimes, people won’t get back to you, so it’s best to just move on and focus on other priorities.

6) Strengthen existing relationships

Effective networking isn’t all about meeting new people – it’s about strengthening the relationships you already have, too. Don’t forget about connections you’ve had for a while, as they may still be valuable, long-lasting relationships to hang on to. A connection will appreciate a long-term professional relationship, and will likely recommend you to others since they’re aware of your reliability and professionalism over the years.

7) Think about body language

When attending networking events or speaking to other professionals, it’s helpful to pay attention to the body language of yourself and others. Standing up straight, holding eye contact, and a firm handshake are all body language practices that will make you appear more professional and confident. 

Be intentional about where you position yourself in a room, too. Don’t hide yourself away in a corner – a tip is to stand by the bar so you can get chatting while people are waiting for their drinks.

8) Create business cards

two people networking by exchanging business cards

Business cards are convenient to have at networking events or as you go about your day-to-day activities. You never know when a networking opportunity may arise, so having business cards with you will give you an air of professionalism with whoever you meet. Plus, business cards are a simple way to put all of your contact information in one place, making it very easy for connections to follow up with you later. 

9) Use LinkedIn

Networking doesn’t only happen in person – websites like LinkedIn are incredibly important for meeting new connections. Most modern professionals have LinkedIn accounts and use it to grow their career or business. It’s important to keep up with the times when networking, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to meet people online. If you feel as if you’re stuck in a rut with LinkedIn, check out our article about how to improve your LinkedIn presence.

10) Actively listen

When having a conversation with someone at a networking event, it’s important to show that you are actively listening. If you don’t seem like you’re paying attention and interested in a person, they may think you are uninterested or rude. So, be sure to maintain eye contact and show interest in what they’re saying – asking a couple of short questions (without interrupting) is a good way to show that you’re listening. Plus, by actively listening, the valuable information that you hear from someone else will be much easier to remember and learn from.

11) Never stop networking

Whether you’re in an entry level position or CEO of a company, there is always lots to gain from networking. Just because you have achieved a goal in your career progression, this doesn’t mean that you should stop networking. Networking allows you to collaborate with people outside of your organisation who you may not meet under normal circumstances. You can also build up a positive reputation that paves the way for more career opportunities. There’s always room to grow, and networking is the perfect way to do so.

Want to learn how to get into digital marketing? Check out some more career advice on our Content Hub, or get in touch with a member of our award winning digital marketing agency.

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