Networking, it is perhaps one of the most dreaded words in the professional sense, second to audit. A lot of people try to stay away from having to network, but it really is something an individual looking to progress in their field can’t get away from. Contrary to what most people believe, networking is a lot more than simply seeing or meeting people at an event or seminar. Networking is something that we do on a daily basis.
This article aims to provide a few top tips on how to ensure your next networking experience a fruitful one.
When networking goes to plan, it helps you create a new connection by having a great conversation. The big question is: how exactly do you go about networking? While it appears easy to some, to others it involves thinking of what to say, what questions to ask, and how and when to ask them. If the latter example sounds familiar, then continue reading.
The reason why networking to some is a wonderful experience, is because the individuals involved understand that there’s a loose script to follow. It could also be that the two individuals realise the value of their time, so they do everything to ensure that each interaction is always worthwhile.
Here are some questions you can ask when professionally networking. Be sure to use your discretion when picking which questions to use.
What does a typical day or week look like, in your line of work?
What interesting projects are you working on right now?
How is your organisation approaching Artificial Intelligence in their business model?
What type of opportunities does your organisation provide, to enhance your career?
What does your next career move look like?
What does your family think of what you do?
Are you a member of any professional associations? Which ones do you recommend.
What would you say were some of the new trends in your industry?
Do you subscribe to any industry blogs or feeds that you think are worth following?
Is there something that you would love to accomplish this year? (offer help if you believe you can)
Do you have many opportunities to engage with other industry professionals outside of your organisation?
What would you say were some of the key steps, or critical decisions you’ve made that have impacted your career?
What was your motivation to get into your line of work
What are some of the challenges your currently facing
What are your thoughts on (use latest popular world news topic)
How does your organisation manage employee engagement
Are you, or your organisation involved in any exciting initiatives?
These are just a few questions you can ask when networking. Ultimately, the aim of networking is to understand a little more about other people; their roles and goals within their organisations, or even just within their personal life outside of work.
Consider networking an ‘always on’ button, where your intrigue to better understand and service the people around you, is the driving factor.
When networking, you should always be prepared to answer any question you’re willing to ask. This isn’t a one way street where you simply go around collecting information from strangers. It’s a process of giving and receiving information, so that all parties leave the discussion much more informed about the other person, than when they joined.
The ultimate goal is to understand your network in enough detail, so that if any opportunities come your way; you know who to re-direct them to, or who to call for advice and support.
Many people believe the point of networking is driven by a desire to see what you can ‘get’. When in fact those who are great at it and tend to do well over the long run, understand that the key is actually, to get to know others and make new connections.
Networking is about getting to know yourself, so that you can better highlight who you are, what you offer and any value you’re able to bring to the table, should you ever be invited to take a seat.
With a keen and ‘genuine’ interest in understanding others, by giving them a clearer picture of the real you, your skills and abilities. You have much more of a chance in creating long-lasting professional partnerships and sometimes even friendships.
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