Networking and Relationship Building
10 Ways to Network More Effectively
One of the ways in which we can think about becoming a better business networker is to use the “LINK” acronym. This stands for:
L=Learn (or carefully evaluate your own personality, style and preferences and think about how much you are really prepared to build strong, long-term relationships with people and adapt networking as a process to grow, develop and help achieve your aims).
I=Invest (or try to establish the right approach and image to network successfully and to engage in the long-term process of building as much quickly into as many of your relationships with people as you can – usually through a process of giving).
N=Nurture (or the slow and careful building of relationships as you establish more regular contact with people).
K=Keep (or maintaining the momentum or ensuring that you remain or keep on track. This is mainly achieved through building personal confidence and being persistent).
Although this little acronym is generally helpful, what are some of the things that we can do in practice to start networking more effectively and to build up our contacts? Here are 10 that you might try:
|1. Start with family and friends||Some of our family members and friends are already well-networked so it makes sense to start here. But be careful to work out what you have to offer in getting family and friends to introduce you to their network contacts-don’t forget good networkers are givers not takers.|
|2. Check out old classmates||You may have lost touch but some of your old classmates may be good contacts to reacquaint yourself with or may know people with whom you would like to connect.|
|3. Talk with work colleagues||As with family and friends, some colleagues will be helpful to introduce you to contacts that could be very useful to network with but be clear about why you want to connect and what you have to offer when you do.|
|4. Sit next to strangers at lunch||Sitting alone or with the same general group is an easy option but at least once or twice a week (and more if you are comfortable to do so) ask politely if you can sit with a stranger in a work lunch room or ask to join a table of people you hardly know-you’ll be supposed how easy this is and how much you will learn as you talk to people.|
|5. Join specific networking groups||There are some groups specifically set up to facilitate network contacts – some directly and some indirectly. These may be local or functional or professional expertise based so research what is available before you select one or two to try.|
|6. Build up contacts on LinkedIn and other social media platforms||While face-to-face-interaction remains the best form of networking, you no longer need to rely on snail mail or phone calls to interact. With social networking sites, you can research and connect with other professionals easier than ever. Although Facebook, Twitter and Google+ (and others) are great, the leader in this space is LinkedIn where you can join groups and add connections very quickly.|
|7. Go to interesting presentations, seminars or conferences||There are now many free and quite low cost events that can be attended not far from the office or home that offer not only the chance to hear about something new and interesting but to meet people before and after a speech. The site www.meetup.com is a great resource here.|
|8. Volunteer||There are many more local volunteering opportunities than there are people to fill them (in hospitals, schools and other areas). This is a great chance to meet new people ad swell contacts both directly and indirectly.|
|9. Take up a new social hobby||Although it should be something that is of real interest to you, almost any social hobby (a sport, photography, a book club etc.) is a great chance to meet new people directly and start to get introduced to a wider circle.|
|10. Participate in your local community||As with volunteering, a person’s local community will have a wide array of social events through its city council or other non-profit body. These often present great opportunities to network and meet with interesting people that you might not meet in any other way.|