Expanding your networking contacts is something you should always be working on. Opportunities come in many different forms and can even show up in unexpected places. Make preparations to ensure you are ready to network whenever the occasion arises.
Make a Good Impression
The opportunity to network could present itself at any time. Regardless of where you are, keep your eyes peeled for ways you can connect with those around you. There are major advantages to networking in person. You have the ability to make eye contact, smile, and communicate your overall competence to somebody in an informal setting. While this can take away some of the pressure of formal networking situations, it is important to pay attention to body language and social cues. The key is to make a lasting impression without monopolizing the conversation or taking too much time. You are trying to present the best version of yourself in a short amount of time. Keep things professional and respectful.
Find New Opportunities
Networking opportunities are endless! Consider new places where you might have an opportunity to network. Think outside of the box! Some possible venues where this would be appropriate include a fitness class, church functions, book club, etc. Look for any setting in which you are meeting with the same people repeatedly. You don’t want to attempt networking with people you have met only briefly. You want those you are networking with to see you as a genuine person. Bombarding someone you don’t know very well with questions about furthering your career can come across as inauthentic. Get to know someone a little bit before you attempt to network. Being introduced by a friend is a good way to do this. Your friend will be able to vouch for you as a person to whomever it is that you’re networking with. It will also make the initial encounter more comfortable for everyone involved. One of the easiest ways to make new contacts is through people you already know. Take an interest in your friends and their jobs.
When attending any kind of networking function, do your research. Find out who will be in attendance. Identify potential networking contacts that you are interested in meeting, and attend functions where are most likely to meet those people. Make the most of these occasions by attending the events that make sense for you and your future career. This will also help you make the most out of your time. If you are looking for any additional tips for seeking out worthwhile networking opportunities, the Young Entrepreneur Council wrote an excellent article for Forbes.com regarding this topic. You can find it here.
Networking is something you can do just about any time in any place. Keep your eyes open for situations where it is appropriate to further your professional career. Make sure you are prepared to meet and impress anyone who comes your way so you can expand your contacts and further your career.