Does networking really work?

06/06/2022

Many in business have heeded the long-held advice that they need to network in order to ‘get ahead’ in their career. This means meeting relevant people to gather information, open up opportunities and help provide word-of-mouth authority on their skills and expertise.

Yet with a break from in-person networking over the past two years due to the coronavirus, does networking still have a place in everyday professional progression ambitions? We believe so, but there are some tips to bear in mind to ensure you maximise the opportunities networking can bring. You might want to consider the following.

Stick in the mind

Networking events can be busy and it can be difficult to remember the name, face, and characteristics of every person you meet. In order to make yourself stand out from the crowd, it’s important to make a positive first impression and come across as approachable, knowledgeable and helpful. Creative business cards, a small gift from IGO Promo or a connection on social media can all help make an indelible mark.

Stay strategic

It’s all too easy to spend networking events hyped up on the number of people you interact with before leaving and realising that actually, you’ve benefitted little from meeting them. Instead, stay strategic and be sure to prioritise meeting people you feel could be helpful to your business or personal professional progression. Social media channels such as LinkedIn alongside published attendee lists can often provide information who will be where and you can utilise any known contact details to arrange meetings (both formal or informal) ahead of time.

Schedule time

Just because you can’t make a set networking event or there isn’t one happening relevant to you and your business right now doesn’t mean you shouldn’t network at all. Instead schedule time out of your day through a lunch break or after hours to meet someone specifically just to get to know them. There’s nothing wrong with approaching someone professionally to have lunch or a coffee – and in a post-pandemic world, the human touch and extra effort is likely to be appreciated more than ever.

Follow up

Everyone has, at some point in their career, picked up a business card, put it away and forgotten about it until they retrieve it unexpectedly weeks later – far too belated to make meaningful contact. Instead, it’s crucial to follow up in a timely manner through an email, call or message on relevant social media.

A cleverly-written copy-and-paste message may suffice but keep it professional, non-pushy and with at least one detail relevant specifically to that person and your contact with them. Don’t be afraid to send even a brief note to everyone you collect details or a card from – you never know when you may need them in the future and the effort made doesn’t have to be vast.

The events of the past few years have certainly left most of us feeling as though we’re out of practice when it comes to professional social situations. This is completely normal. As life resumes more of its former patterns, it’s critical that we maximise the human contact we do have and derive value wherever possible.

Coronavirus may have stalled career and business advancement for many but now’s the time to take the plunge and get moving in the right direction again. A little confidence, a dash of creativity and some connection building will prove a recipe for success. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to get back out there and build some strategic business relationships.


 


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