Whether you’re fresh out of college or you’ve been in the workforce for a few years now, it’s important to never stop networking. After all, the last thing you want is to be left in the dust because your networking skills were neglected and you didn’t take enough time to build valuable connections.
Wherever you are in your career, here are 20 networking tips worth mastering right now:
1. Talk to Non-Millennials
While it makes sense to build a network of like-minded people who have had similar experiences as you, you also want to meet people who have years of experience and have obtained practical wisdom.
Network with individuals who’ve been working in your industry for a while. Obtain a few Baby Boomer and Gen X mentors. Diversify, diversify, diversify!
2. Know How to Talk to Busy People
As you continue to master networking, you’ll discover some of the most important (and potentially helpful) people are the busiest. When reaching out to them, have a specific purpose. State that purpose in a mutually-beneficial way. And be sure to ask the right questions and accommodate their schedule.
3. Know the Right Time to Ask for a Coffee Date
Most people think the initial step to take when networking is to set up a meeting over coffee. While this can be an effective practice, it’s also important to be considerate of people’s busy schedules.
As you network, consider setting up meetings over the phone or even stopping by their office for a quick chat. This makes networking much more convenient for them, and makes them much more willing to spend time with you.
4. Keep in Touch with Alumni
Your alumni networks are a gold mine of professionals and colleagues you must stay in contact with over the summer. Even if it’s dropping a fellow alumni an email or tweet just once a month, make sure you keep those relationships strong!
5. Go to Networking Events
You need to get your butt to networking events! Period. You’re not going to meet new people unless you put yourself out there. If you’re afraid to go alone, grab one of your friends or coworkers to join with you. No matter how you do it, get there!
6. Invest in Business Cards
Although we’re in a digital era where everyone uses LinkedIn and email to build connections, business cards will never go out of style. Invest a few dollars. Hand them out with confidence. Business cards… mean business.
7. Focus on Commonalities
As you network, look for people with whom you could see yourself staying in touch. These relationships are ones where you can help each other and have common interests. Plus, these win-win relationships can serve as your career advocates and job search buddies, too!
8. Pay it Forward
As you meet new people, search for opportunities to help them out. Whether it’s sharing a helpful article with them or connecting them with someone in your network, don’t hesitate to lend a hand.
9. Don’t Forget About your Online Connections
The busier you are with work and real-life connections, the easier it is to forget about the connections you’ve made through social media. Nurture the relationships you developed on Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn!
10. Spruce Up Your LinkedIn Profile
Research shows 94 percent of recruiters who are active on LinkedIn use it to find candidates. So every couple months, using highly relevant keywords in your headline and summary, spruce up your LinkedIn profile.
11. Ask Questions (And then Shut Up and Listen to the Answers)
Two of the best ways to make the most of your networking efforts are: 1) ask thoughtful questions, and 3) be a good listener. Especially when used in this order, this one tip will help you learn more from the influential people with whom you network.
12. Engage With a People Outside Your Company and Industry
Another great way to expand your knowledge is to network with people who work in different fields from you and at different companies. You’ll not only broaden your thinking, you’ll most likely discover new ideas.
13. Network With Purpose
Don’t just do it to get ahead in your career or so your ever-increasing number of followers shows no signs of slowing. Network because you want to build meaningful relationships, grow as a professional, and give to others.
14. Inspire Others
Everyone needs an advocate. So as you meet new people, inspire them to follow their dreams and accomplish their goals. Not only will you help someone in your network feel motivated, you’ll feel inspired.
15. Perfect a One-Sentence Introduction
Whenever you meet a new person, you must able to introduce yourself with confidence. For example, if you’re looking for a job, you don’t have to go into detail about your current employment status. Just say something like “I’m Jane Doe and I’m a graphic designer.” However, if you’re employed, you could say something like “I’m Jane Doe and I work for ABC Marketing as their graphic designer.”
16. Know How to Leave Awkward Conversations
If you find yourself in an awkward networking situation, you need to know how to politely excuse yourself or change the topic. When the conversation is becoming lifeless, you can mention that a colleague showed up you must meet, or that you’d like to introduce the person to a friend.
17. Be Proud of Who You Are
Even if you’re unemployed, be confident in who you are and the value you bring. Just because you don’t have a job doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to offer. Be confident in your skills and experience, and you’ll feel much better when entering networking situations.
18. Compliment Others
Compliments go far. Whenever you see the opportunity to compliment someone on their accomplishments or success, be sure to share your kind words.
19. Look for Common Ground
Finding common ground is a great way to keep the conversation going. To do this, ask open-ended questions like “Is this your first time at this event?” and carefully listen to the other person’s response.
20. Overcome Your Fear of Networking
Networking doesn’t have to be scary. To advance your career, you need to embrace networking with confidence and enthusiasm. You must become a networking monster!
What other networking tips would you add to this list? Let us know, in the comments below!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Come Recommended!
About the Author: Olivia Adams is the Brand Manager at Come Recommended. She is a graduate of Ferris State University with a B.S. in public relations. Olivia has experience in content marketing, writing, social media, branding, and public relations.