Using your network can be a key component in taking care of business in today’s world. But before you can utilize and leverage the potential of your professional network, you have to build your own. Networking is about more than just shaking a few hands and dipping out for the evening. Networking is a skill you can get better at over time and networking can happen at any point in the day.
Networking isn’t only mingling on rooftops for professional after-hour events or attending a speed networking event in a hotel lobby on your lunch hour. While these events are useful for expanding your professional reach and developing a new list of contacts, think outside the box, too. Sharing a cab. Waiting in line. Checking in at the airport. You never know who you could meet and where these connections could lead you!
If you’re looking to bump up your networking game, follow this how-to guide with four easy steps.
1. Be prepared.
Make sure you always have a business card or contact information available. Professionalism speaks volumes. Instead of scrambling for a pen and an old crumpled receipt, you should always have a business card ready.
2. Show up.
Putting yourself out there is daunting for everyone. Half the battle is showing up. Commit yourself to the events you RSVP and follow through.
3. Say hello.
Be curious. Be friendly. Be yourself. Don’t be afraid to be the first one to extend your hand and introduce yourself. Growing a network doesn’t happen overnight, be patient.
4. Keep an open mind.
You may be networking solely to land your new full-time position, but remain open to the possibility. Who knows who you might meet and how you may collaborate in the future.
Written by Brian Hughes