Note: This is the final installment of a three-part series.
By now I hope you’ve noticed an emerging theme: networking isn’t all about you. Like any other relationship, it’s a two-way street. If you take anything away from this mini-series, I hope you take this: giving is more important that receiving. You network smarter when you’re attentive to others’ wants and needs. It’s effective and it makes for lasting connections.
1. Forget titles, field specifics, and initial assumptions.
Everyone has something to offer. Don’t let labels or an individual’s line-of-work influence your decision on whether or not to build a business relationship with them. Instead, focus on connecting with individuals that have similar values, outside interests, and work ethic. When your network is diverse, you’re more likely to know “connectors,” or those who can put you in touch with people you never would have met otherwise.
2. Say their name.
I think it feels good when someone says my name during conversation. You’ve probably noticed it too. A study published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s website confirms that “there is unique brain activation specific to one’s own name.” Positive brain activation. So say their name often and where it feels appropriate.
3. Be genuine.
I once encountered a consultant who gave me his business card and introduced himself well. As soon as someone new came into the room, however, he interrupted me mid-sentence and introduced himself to them. Unprofessional. I politely took his card but threw it away when I reached my desk. He wasn’t genuinely interested in me or what I had to say. Why should I give him the time of day? Learn from this: always be genuinely interested in the other person. People can tell if you’re trying to fill your own agenda.
4. Do lunch.
Try connecting with individuals on a level other than business — people bond over overlapping areas of interest, no matter what they are. I’ve found that meeting your co-workers for lunch is the perfect way to do this. It gets you both out of the office and on even ground. Plus, people are generally flattered that you thought of them. Win, win.
5. Become a resource.
“In business, you get what you want by giving other people what they want,” says Alice MacDougall. When you build good karma, and it’s bound to come back to you. Remember, positivity and helpfulness is contagious.
6. Actively maintain.
The key to effective networking is relationship maintenance. Sending a thank-you note, making a phone call, arranging a meeting, sending an article of interest to someone, putting someone else’s link up on your Facebook—all of these count as networking, and you should be doing these as often as you can.
Missed one of the other articles? Read the whole series here.
About the Author
My love of words began at an early age: speaking in rhymes and alliterations just because I liked the sound of them. As I grew, I began to appreciate the way words connected to create images in poetry and the impact they had on others as a story. I believe it was this initial fascination (paired with a little design and technical knack) that led me into the Learning Design Specialist position at Leggett & Platt. Now I get to leverage words, visuals, and learning strategies to contribute to the professional development of our people. The work is challenging and creative which keeps me engaged, but it’s the give back element that makes it all worthwhile.