Intentional networking is tricky and makes many of us feel uncomfortable. However, this professional necessity is not only for the extroverts. Everyone can become a successful networker by viewing the situation differently and incorporating these simple tips.
- Recognize the universal benefits.
Do not feel guilty about networking. It is not a purely selfish act. Networking is valuable for you, your present or future employer and the economy as a whole.
“Not only do employers value the extra credibility involved when hiring through word-of-mouth referrals, but they also appreciate the lower recruitment cost and greater likelihood an individual will fit well with their organizational culture,” according to Dana Manciagli.
- Think like Benjamin Franklin.
The Ben Franklin Effect is a proposed psychological phenomenon that says a person who has performed a favor for someone is more likely to do another favor for that person than they would be if they had received a favor from that person. In other words, people enjoy doing favors for others. Usually the giver of the favor feels even better at the end of the interaction than the receiver.
- Use good manners.
Instead of thinking about the next thing you are going to say while they are speaking, listen to what the other person is saying. Respond by incorporating part of what they said. Do not automatically turn off your ears if you do not hear that they have something to offer you. You may be the one who is able to help them this time. The golden rule applies to all areas of life, including networking.
- Be forward thinking.
The relationship could be beneficial later on. Collect contact information from them. Take it a step further by sending a follow up email the next day or a LinkedIn message with a brief note about where you two met and to insure that they know how to reach you in the future. This will make you much more memorable.
At the end of the day, it’s worth it to put yourself out there. The rewards are greater than the risk. Remember that everyone has unique strength and weaknesses, but we all have to potential to be successful networkers. It all starts with the right mindset.