We’ve always been told that networking is a super important skill to develop as a working professional, but how does one even start? How do you build business relationships naturally without shoving your pitch down someone’s throat? Where do you even begin when you’re in a room full of strangers? And what if you’re – gasp – an introvert? We turned to our CLEO Change Makers for top tips on how to network like a professional adult.
“If you’re very introverted (like I am!), send someone better out to network instead. Also, if big networking sessions are not your thing and you’re not comfortable with making small talk, don’t force yourself to attend just to throw namecards around. Instead, focus on making genuine connections. Request for one-on-one meetings, and invest time in building that relationship.”
“My best networking tool is Facebook. A lot of social meetings are made possible because of platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Make it a point to sign up for events and put yourself out there. And when you’re ‘out there’, don’t just stand in a corner – try to talk to new people. Doing this not only deepens your understanding of things, but can also lead to collaboration.”
“Don’t have pre-determined ideas about people. Go with an open mind – you don’t know what the connection can do for you in time.”
“Networking is about learning from other people, so don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t know something.”
“You need to network naturally, and one way of doing this is to reach out and help people. For me, if I find out that someone needs help finding a cat a home for the first time, I’ll teach them how to rehome a cat. Next thing I know, we’ve become friends!”
“Never be afraid to ask for help. When you ask people for advice, it makes them feel good.”
“First, always be interested in other people and ask about them. Second, always remember their names. Third, be open, because you never know who you’ll meet and when you’re crossing paths again.”