1. Figure out the Critical Few – These are the people that are currently in your life that wouldn’t hesitate to lend you a hand and give you referrals for new people to meet. These could be your mentors, professors, bosses etc… These are the people that are your genuine friends that will help you at a moment’s notice. These are the people who you should seek help from when it comes to finding people to network with. Ask them if they know people in industries that you find interesting or want to build more connections in. These are the easiest connections you will be able to make as they come with a warm referral from a good friend.
2. Be Interesting – When having a conversation with someone new you don’t always have to keep it strictly business. It is always best to create some form of personal connection with the individual and this all depends on you and your interests! I want to make sure to point out that you don’t always have to find a shared interest with someone but you do have to share your own interests. This will help keep the conversation flowing and create that genuine personal connection.
3. Say their name – People like to hear their own name, plain and simple. The best thing to do is immediately use their name in a conversation, this will not only make them more comfortable, it will demonstrate that you are paying attention!
4. Be Yourself – Are you introverted? Don’t pretend to be extroverted! And visa versa. Be the best self you can be, even if that means you are not the hyper extrovert looking to talk to anyone and everyone. The introverted and shy person has their own strengths by being genuine and authentic when they are making connections.
5. Find a Networking Wingman – Networking alone can be intimidating especially in big group environments when everyone seems like they already know each other. If you find that too difficult to do then find a person to go along with you! You can feed off each others energy and this will allow you to more easily penetrate bigger groups of individuals without any awkwardness.
6. Be Fearless – The Number #1 fear people have when attempting to do anything…. is failing. Once you understand that failing is part of life and is in fact an excellent learning opportunity, that is the moment you will be able to push your own boundaries and grow better and faster than before. You will never be good at something unless you try. Failing just means you are one step closer to excelling! This counts even for Networking.
7. Keep in Touch – After you have made that great connection with a person you don’t want to stop there. Sharing new information, contacts, event invitations with your new contact is the best way to continue to foster a relationship and bring it to the next level.
8. Always be Networking! – Networking can be forced by going to a conference but it also happens in our everyday life! Try joining a club or a sports league, you can make connections anywhere you go. The person sitting beside you at a sports game might work for the company you want to work for. So next time you have an opportunity to strike up a conversation with a stranger, go for it!
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