In Part One of this series, I discussed the importance of being prepared for upcoming networking opportunities by having questions in mind and conducting research. I also highlighted ways to make networking more fun and successful by taking a genuine interest in the other individual.
Now, we will complete our networking insight by covering three additional critical strategies for success:
Networking Tip #3- Branch Out + Let Your Curiosity Lead the Way
It is important to think of networking in tiers: 1) trade and 2) expansion of our skills. Trade means attending events and participating in organizations that are aligned with your field of work. For example, attorneys typically attend events planned by the Bar Association; CPA’s will typically attend events specific to accountants. These events are filled with individuals who have similar educational and professional backgrounds and are beneficial to your career.
But it is equally important to expand beyond our “trade” network and attend events in other fields. This allows us to let curiosity lead the way and enables us to branch out into groups or organizations uncommon to our daily activities. For example, the same attorneys and CPAs we mentioned may find interest in joining the Advertising Association to learn new topics such as branding, marketing, and communication. We can benefit from these “expansion” events by developing new skills, creating opportunities for collaboration, building up our network, and connecting with potential clients.
What topics outside of your daily work are you curious to learn more about? Are there any organizations outside your trade you would like to start attending?
Networking Tip #4 - Observe How Others Introduce You
How do your mentors, co-workers, managers, and business connections introduce you? What words do they use to describe you and are they clearly defining what you want said about yourself? The way others introduce us is directly linked to the way we introduce ourselves, how we are projecting ourselves, and how we are perceived by others.
A colleague recently introduced me to a coach that he recommended to help promote my book. My colleague's introduction read, “Mike is a guru, he is an expert in his field, he has helped authors for years to become bestsellers.” My colleague then introduced me to Mike by saying, “Dima is super sweet and is a speaker pal.” I realized immediately that I had been projecting this singular image of being “super sweet,” and that is how he perceived me. I was not happy about that. In a business setting, I do not want to be perceived only as “super sweet” but on my skills and expertise.
It became clear that in my previous discussions with my colleague, I had not clearly communicated what my specialty of work was, how I was making positive changes in my field, was helping my clients achieve success, or even what my book was about. If I had been better at conveying my story and achievements to him, then he would have included that information in his introduction of me. So, I took it upon myself to practice and be more confident in what I say about myself and how I talk about my business. Because, I know this will directly be translated into what people say when they introduce me to others.
What are common words or phrases people typically say about you during an introduction? Are you happy about what they are saying and can you give them more information to better describe you in the future?
Networking Tip #5 - Nurture Your Cheerleaders + Be a cheerleader
Our cheerleaders are the individuals who show up in our lives and take notice of our potential, even when we do not realize it. They help us by opening doors to new opportunities, listening to our frustrations, and believing in our dreams. Some of our cheerleaders have been cheering us on for years, while others may have been there through certain transitional periods. It is important that we show them our appreciation, as the more we continue to nurture our cheerleaders the more they will continue to cheer for us in our journey.
Who are your cheerleaders? Write out a list of their names, and think of ways to show them gratitude. It could be as simple as sending a card or giving them a call. Whatever method we use, what matters is that we continue to nurture the relationship we have with them.
Now, who could you be a cheerleader for? Who could you intentionally elevate in business and be of assistance to in their professional career? Write down a list of three people, and be intentional in helping them by opening doors of opportunity or cheering them on in their journey.
These are five simple techniques that can be implemented to help you utilize your network for professional growth. I would love to hear your thoughts and tips as well. Share them below in the comments.
This blog is based on the topic covered in the October Leadership & Lattes.