Professional networking is one of the most effective tools for achieving business success.
Building a comprehensive professional network requires more than randomly collecting as many contacts as possible, it is a practice that combines knowledge, strategy, communication and relationship building skills.
While there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to professional networking, crafting an effective strategy can help you maximize the potential of your connections to reap tangible results.
In this blog we'll cover what it takes to master the art of professional networking: understand the concept, develop essential skills to build long-term relationships with key contacts, establish goals and success metrics to expand and manage your network, plus tips on how to measure progress through each step.
Keep reading to learn what professional networking is, how to practice it, and how to get results.
What is Professional Networking?
We all know that person who always seems to have their finger on the pulse of the latest industry news, or who knows someone who can help with just about anything. They make things happen and always seem to be one step ahead of the game. How do they do it? It's simple: they've mastered the art of professional networking.
In today's hyper-connected world, networking is more important than ever. Whether you're looking for a new job, trying to score an important client, or simply wanting to keep up with the latest trends in your field, networking is essential.
But what exactly is professional networking? And how can you get started?
Professional networking is the process of cultivating relationships with people who have interests or goals similar to yours. This could include colleagues at your current job or industry contacts with whom you want to build relationships.
By becoming involved in professional networks, you are able to create meaningful connections with others who can help you advance your career or business goals.
Professional networking is the practice of building relationships with other professionals, both in your field of expertise and in other related areas. It's a way to expand your knowledge and skills, in addition to increasing your career opportunities.
Learn about some skills you can develop to get a better result from your networking:
1. Active Listening: Active listening is one of the most important skills for successful networking. When you are meeting new people it is essential that you are present and paying attention to what they have to say. Active listening means being fully engaged in the conversation, asking relevant questions and showing interest. This helps establish a trusting relationship and shows the other person that you value their opinion.
2. Clear verbal communication: When you are connecting with others, it is essential that you can convey your ideas and information concisely. This helps ensure that you are understood correctly and helps establish a trusting relationship with the other person.
3. Nonverbal Communication: Nonverbal communication is a skill that many people overlook when connecting with others. However, the way you present yourself can say a lot about who you are as a person and how you feel about the other person. Nonverbal communication includes things like eye contact, posture, and gestures. It is important to ensure that your non-verbal communication is in tune with your verbal communication so that you can convey the message you want.
4. Ask Relevant Questions: When connecting with others, it is important to ask relevant questions to better understand their needs and interests. This helps establish a trusting relationship and can lead to future collaboration opportunities. The questions you ask should be open-ended and relevant to the conversation, and should show an interest in the other person.
Why network and how to succeed
Professional networking is essential for anyone looking to build meaningful connections and further their professional or business goals. It involves building relationships with others who share similar interests or goals, while providing helpful resources along the way.
While it takes patience and dedication on behalf of everyone involved in order to produce results, it can certainly be worth it if done right!
Investing time in practicing effective professional networking techniques will ensure that you make the most of every opportunity presented by these valuable connections.
With the practice of networking you build:
Access to new opportunities: Meeting people in your field can bring you new job opportunities or exciting projects.
Belief building: When you meet others in your field, you can build a positive opinion as someone reliable and knowledgeable.
Continuous learning: By connecting With other professionals, you can learn more about industry trends and best practices.
Mutual support: A strong network can provide emotional support and encouragement when needed.
Networking is an important part of professional development, no matter what stage of your career you are at. It can be intimidating to get out there and meet new people, but it's essential to growing professionally and personally.
“But why network?”, you might ask yourself.
Well, networking offers a chance to acquire valuable knowledge, contacts and professional opportunities that could benefit your career or business.
Read on to find out why networking is so important.
Develop New Connections
Networking allows you to build meaningful relationships with professionals in fields or industries similar to yours. These connections can become useful sources of information, advice and support throughout your career.
You never know who will have the insight that moves your career into the future or the connection that leads you to other industry professionals who can help drive your growth.
Gain new knowledge
Networking also provides access to vital industry insights from experts in the field. This new knowledge can help inform decisions about your current role or future goals.
Attending meetings and events where conversations are focused on topics relevant to your work will give you a greater understanding of trends, challenges and developments in specific industries or professions allowing you to stay one step ahead of the competition when pursuing new opportunities.
Expand your professional presence
Networking gives you the opportunity to establish yourself as an expert in your field by respectfully engaging with other professionals and contributing knowledge-based feedback during conversations. The more visible you are within an industry, the more likely potential employers will take you to heart – especially if they recognize your name from conversations at networking events or through digital channels like LinkedIn or Twitter.
Taking advantage of these networking opportunities can open doors to bigger projects and more senior roles down the line.
How to practice Professional Networking?
There are several ways to practice professional networking, such as attending conferences and events where professionals with the same interests come together.
These events can provide great business and career opportunities as they allow you to meet and speak with people who share common goals.
Additionally, online platforms like LinkedIn are excellent tools for connecting with potential contacts in your area. You can also get in touch via email or phone call, if appropriate.
Understand some experiences that can help you develop skills to improve your networking:
1. Attend industry events: Conferences, trade shows, and events are great opportunities to meet others in your field.
2. Use social media: LinkedIn and other platforms are great ways to connect with other professionals.
3. Keep in touch regularly: Send an email or message occasionally to keep in touch with your connections.
4. Be helpful to others: Offer help whenever possible, it helps build lasting relationships.
Applications, websites and support platforms for Networking
Networking can be difficult if you don't know where to start. Fortunately, there are a number of digital platforms and apps specifically designed to help with networking.
Let's take a look at some of them!
LinkedIn is a professional social media platform that allows users to connect with colleagues as well as potential employers or clients.
The site also has a wealth of resources such as job postings, industry news, research articles and discussion groups. Additionally, it provides tools that help users create their own professional profiles, which can include information about education, experience, skill set, and more.
LinkedIn is an excellent resource for anyone looking to connect with people in their area or expand their network in general.
Meetup is an app that helps people find local groups based on their interests or hobbies. It's perfect for those who want to meet like-minded people in real life instead of just online.
Its search feature allows users to narrow down results by location or topic so they can easily find events and activities that suit their needs.
Meetup also has a messaging system so members of the same group can communicate with each other without having to leave the app or website. This makes it easy for them to stay connected even after the event is over.
Eventbrite is another popular platform for those looking to network in real life, such as conferences or workshops.
The site makes event creation easy for organizers while still providing users with all the necessary information before attending (eg cost, speakers/panelists/guests).
ClickCard is a mobile application that allows users to create and exchange digital business cards with each other.
It's simple to use. All you need to do is download the app, create your profile with your relevant information (name, title, company, contact information, social media) and then start connecting!
You can exchange business cards with colleagues and other professionals in a variety of ways: through proximity search or custom search; QR Code or custom link; NFC or scanner.
Once connected, both parties will receive an updated version of each other's profiles from their digital business cards!
Tips on how to start networking
Networking, a word that can strike fear in the heart of even the most seasoned professional. The mere thought of walking into a room full of strangers and trying to make small talk can be enough to make some people break out in a cold sweat.
But do not need be like that.
With a little preparation and practice, it can become a great learning experience.
Here's how to get started:
Before heading into a networking event it's important to do your research and know who will be attending. That way, you can direct your conversation to people you think might be beneficial contacts.
If you're not sure where to start, try searching for the event on social media or checking the website of the organization hosting the event.
Prepare an elevator speech
An elevator speech is a short, persuasive speech that you can use to introduce yourself to someone new. They are called elevator pitches because they must be short enough to be delivered in the time it takes to ride an elevator (about 30 seconds).
When preparing your elevator speech, focus on what you can offer rather than what you want.
For example: “I help companies increase their visibility online” is more likely to pique someone's interest than “I'm looking for a job in digital marketing”.
Digital Business Cards
Business cards are essential for ensuring that your new contacts have all of your relevant information (name, title, company, contact information, social media, etc.) in one place. They are also useful for taking notes about people you know.
You can create a digital business card with ClickCard. In addition to being able to present your contact details quickly, you will be able to monitor the engagement (how many people access and what they access) of your card.
Stay in touch
Follow-up is one of the most important parts of networking, but it's also one of the most neglected.
After exchanging business cards with someone new, send a quick email or connect with them on LinkedIn within 24 hours while they still remember who you are. This shows that you're interested in maintaining the relationship and gives you an opportunity to mention something specific you've discussed.
Networking doesn't have to be difficult or painful. By following these simple tips, you'll be on your way to becoming a networking pro in no time!
The impact of the practice of Networking on the unemployment rate.
Networking is an increasingly valued practice in the job market. Through it, it is possible to establish connections with people who can help in the search for jobs and professional opportunities. But does this practice really impact the unemployment rate?
According to recent studies, yes. Research published in the scientific journal Science has shown that networks can be responsible for up to 50% of hiring in some sectors of the economy.
That is, those who have a good network of contacts are more likely to get a job.
In addition, another study carried out by the University of Chicago showed that the lack of professional connections can increase the time a person is unemployed.
This is because companies usually give preference to candidates recommended by employees or acquaintances.
But having an extensive network of contacts is not enough. You need to know how to use it correctly. For this, it is important to participate in events and groups related to your area of expertise, maintain frequent contact with your contacts and always be willing to help others.
Of course, networking is not the only solution to the problem of unemployment. Effective public policies and investments in education are also essential to reduce the unemployment rate in the country. However, having a good network of contacts can be an important differential when looking for jobs and professional opportunities.
So, if you still don't invest in networking, start right now!
Look for and groups related to your area, actively participate in social networks and keep in frequent contact with your colleagues and acquaintances. Surely, these connections can make all the difference in your career.