Many people underestimate the importance of networking while searching for their ideal job or looking to expand their business. In the modern era, the lines between digital and face-to-face networking are often blurred, yet each aspect is vital when marketing your greatest asset — yourself. Here, we’ll outline the most important do’s and don’ts regarding professional networking.
Do: Create a Strong First Impression
When someone has come to visit your personal page on a social networking site, you only have a few seconds to get things rolling in the right direction. Follow these tips for building and maintaining your professional online network:
Curate your page. Professionals who have come to learn more about you through a social network may immediately click away if they notice anything offensive or inappropriate on your wall or feed. Keep your page up-to-date with information you would want to share with any potential employer.
Be selective. Not all social networking sites are professionally oriented; use your time wisely by maintaining a profile only on sites that promise to provide valuable contacts and/or information.
Help others. If you realize you have information that will help another person, offer to share it. A helpful attitude is bound to come back around and can lead to valuable contacts in the future.
In-person networking requires a slightly different approach:
Prepare a 10-second introduction. Face-to-face interactions eliminate the ability to carefully select each word before clicking “send.” By preparing a 10-second introduction that explains your purpose for attending an event and how your skills can help others, you’ll break the ice and make a great first impression.
Be friendly and outgoing. Instead of waiting for others to approach you, take the initiative to break the ice with your personal introduction, and find out how you can help them. You may, in turn, make contacts that lead you to your dream job down the road.
Thank others for their time and follow up on your promises. Make sure to follow through on any promises you made while attending an event, and inquire as to whether you were able to help your new contacts meet their goals. Keep in touch via social networks whenever possible.
Don’t: Be Overly Pushy or Forget to Keep Your Word
No matter how badly you want to connect with another person, either online or in person, nothing is more off-putting than a pushy person who appears to have little to offer others. Don’t try to force your way into someone’s network or monopolize a single person’s time at a face-to-face event. Additionally, one of the fastest ways to undo any progress you’ve made with a new contact is to fail to follow up on something you promised to do. Take notes if it helps you remember, but by all means, don’t forget to keep your word when helping another person build their own network.
Do: Take the Next Step With Your Career
Individuals who are ready to take the next step with their business career will need to master new skills and make many contacts while networking. If you have a busy professional life already, studying online to obtain an MBA degree can provide an ideal balance that allows you to continue working, while expanding your knowledge and advancing your career.