Our lives are filled with networking opportunities. In a world that uses social media, the playing field has changed. The reality is the better you are at using social media and networking, the better chance you will have in getting to know people who can help you in your career.
Networking is something you should be doing all the time, not just when you are looking for a new job or career. It should be part of your life on a daily basis. Reaching out to others is something you need to get good at. Expanding your social network is imperative to stay connected to your community.
Networking takes time, yet you can’t afford not to do it. Look at it as a fun exercise in learning more about people as you expand your world. Take an hour out of your day and reach out on social media sites, coffee dates and events.
Here are some tips for proficient networking:
- Pick a few social media sites that you feel comfortable in using. My favorites are LinkedIn and Facebook. I skip Twitter because it is not my style. Set up an interesting, but accurate profile on these sites with pictures that match your personality and career goals. Change them as your life changes. You want to keep a current and accurate message going as to who you are and a glimpse of your personality.
- Schedule a coffee or lunch date once a week with someone you want to get to know and network with. This could be an old friend or former co-worker you haven’t seen for awhile. Keep your presence out there, so when an opportunity arises you come to mind.
- Work on your Elevator Pitch. You need to concise in your answer when people you meet ask you what you do. If you don’t know what you do, how can they? Be specific. Develop a few sentences you can use that they will remember you for. We all have many faucets in our lives, but when networking you don’t need to tell people everything you do in your life.
- Always carry calling cards with your contact information on them. You never know when you are going to run into someone you want to connect with and you want to be prepared to give them your contact information for follow-up. I usually run into people when I am walking my dog or shopping at Whole Foods picking out tomatoes; happens all the time.
- Join a group(s) where you can meet people and get involved. It doesn’t have to be specific to your industry, but rather something you enjoy doing. Get involved and make your presence known.
The first step in networking is to know who you are, what you represent and what you offer. Work on developing your brand. You need to be something to be remembered. This can only be accomplished when you have your brand defined. Then go out there and “mingle.”