Networking is an important aspect of an effective job search and career success, but networking doesn’t have to be a business card grab-game with sweaty palms and awkward elevator speeches. If you’re tapping your networks correctly, your next step is to spend time establishing yourself within those networks, and foster deep relationships. Here are four advanced networking tips for the socially-connected.
1. Reach out always (not just when you need something)
Often, people think of networks as groups of professionals willing to recommend you for jobs and help you further your career. This is only partially true, since relationships are far more complicated than merely establishing them as stepping-stones on your career journey.
Keep the people in your networks in mind outside of career advancement. Reach out to them beyond when you need something. Let them know you care about birthdays, anniversaries, their career moves or just to check-in. Some might call it internet stalking when you peruse a contact’s LinkedIn page and then check out their Twitter feed. A good networker would call this an intermediary step to catching up with friends.
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2. Be a conversation starter in social situations
Ask other attendees why they chose to come and listen for opportunities to help them achieve their goals. Remember what it was like to be the stranger in the room, and aim to set new-comers at ease with your friendly welcome. Offer to make introductions, give them a tour of the facility or make snack recommendations.
Because a growing number of social interactions happen online, ask poignant questions in industry forums or share a friend’s blog post with an invitation to solicit more conversations around the topic.
3. Be a part of events, not just an attendee
If you are looking to be noticed at an event, consider being a part of it in some way. Whether it’s introducing the event coordinators to an outstanding caterer, lending your A/V expertise, or setting up the live hashtag feed, there are sure to be volunteer opportunities tailored to your skill set.
Volunteering is a great way to network with others interested in the same things as you too. There is a reason your fellow volunteers are there. Reach out to them about other types of events they are involved in. Find out what you can offer each other. Mutual benefits are the key to successful networking, after all.
If you feel like you have more expertise to give, offer to be a speaker at their next event.
4. Move online conversations offline and vice versa
How often have you looked up a phenomenal writer, online contributor or industry thought-leader in your network, only to find that they’re local? Why not take the next step and invite them out to lunch? The opposite is also a great way to network. If a fantastic speaker shares their Twitter handle, don’t just follow her, engage online and be a conversation starter.
Understand that everyone is different, so each networking experience will be unique. Let your personal and professional networks reflect you.