You probably know the importance of networking as a means to stay up to date on the latest in your career business. You also know that it can be a strategic tool to help you get ahead.
That’s why you’re a member of several robust networks, plus your own circle of good contacts.
Now, let’s be brutally honest here. Our networking habits leave a lot to be desired. Yes, we attend events from time to time and stay moderately present and active on our networks. We do these things halfheartedly, because we don’t really expect too much from our networking.
Networking is an untapped goldmine of amazing opportunities for advancement and growth if you practice powerful habits. Read on to find out what they are.
1. Stand out by offering real value. We live in a fast-paced, highly competitive world. Oftentimes, people are wary of giving out too much information or just don’t have the time to offer truly beneficial support to network peers.
We commonly offer generic advice or tips or recount our own personal experience.
This is where you can really stand out – by doing the uncommon and offering real value!
This requires that you take the time and make the effort to go above and beyond the usual. It may include things like offering specific contacts or company names, searching out informative literature or videos that really address specific questions. It may also include offering a quick coaching session (for free) in something you specialize in.
First of all, you’ll stand out and shine in your network as someone who cares enough to really help others. Secondly, your peers will remember you and be eager for an opportunity to reciprocate in kind.
When you make it a habit to consistently offer high value, the value you receive in return could be life changing.
2. Focus on strategic relationships. Everyone in your network is important but some contacts are more important than others. These are your strategic relationships that you need to focus on. Even networking requires a bit of political gaming but nothing underhand!
Your strategic relationships are the people who share your values and passions. They’re the people whose goals are most closely aligned with yours. They’re also people who are willing to mentor you in certain areas.
Make it a habit to continually work on building and fostering these relationships. Make sure you stay in touch with friendly messages and interesting snippets of information. And naturally, try to give these people as much value as possible.
Also important is to stay alert for potential strategic relationships and to work on building them – the more the better!
Your strategic relationships keep you motivated and focused. They can be potential sources of important information as well as offer opportunities that best suit your needs and goals.
3. Listen. Networking isn’t about popularity. It’s not just about “what am I going to get out of this?’ It’s not about saying the ‘right things’ to gain points with your peers.
Networking is a two-way conversation, that involves really listening to what’s being said. Read between the lines and try to make your participation a valuable as possible.
Listening also involves being honest. If you disagree with something, express your reasons and convictions. Don’t become known as the person who always has upbeat, positive remarks as this will brand you boring and predictable. On the other hand, don’t become known as the cynic who hardly ever has anything positive to say!
Just let the discussions flow and make sure that you play an active role in fostering them. You’ll find the right balance by simply being yourself and expressing yourself with honesty and integrity. Now, that’s the way to really stand out and earn respect and trust in the process.
4. Practice! How are habits developed? With consistent practice! You’ll have to be alert to your thought process at first and remind yourself to stay consistent. Gradually, these practices will become more and more natural and ultimately, you’ll do them without even thinking.
Practice also involves simulating potential discussion topics that you or others may bring up in order to be mentally prepared.
These simple networking habits have the potential to amaze you with their results.
They will allow you to build and grow great relationships, boost your self-worth and earn you loads of respect and admiration from your network peers.
By practicing these habits, you open the door to opportunities that can help you skyrocket and achieve even more than you dreamed of.
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