Networking is the key to success in any career or field. Whether you are looking to advance in your current job, find a new job, make an impression with a potential employer or meet like minded professionals networking can be an invaluable tool. For many people, networking can be intimidating and uncomfortable though. Even with natural networking skills starting out can seem overwhelming. For those with little to no experience in networking the task may seem impossible.
Fortunately, mastering the art of networking doesn’t require inborn skills so it can be learned. It simply requires some patience and dedication. Here are some tips on how to start networking with no networking skills to speak of.
Identify Your Networking Goals
Before you can even begin the process of networking it’s important to have a clear idea of what your end goal is. Are you looking for a job, new business contacts or industry insights? Identifying specific objectives will help you target the right people and make the most out of your networking efforts.
Leverage Your Existing Connections
Most people have some kind of network even if they don’t think they do. Reach out to your friends and family, coworkers, classmates and acquaintances and ask if they have any contacts in your desired field. Even if you don’t get a direct connection you may be able to gain some valuable insight or make a new contact through someone else.
Make Use of Online Platforms
In today’s digital age there’s no shortage of online platforms to help you make connections. Join online groups related to your industry, follow influencers who discuss topics related to your field and engage in conversations on social media. These activities will help you connect with professionals and get your name out there.
Attend Relevant Events
Attending industry events is an effective way of networking. Look for conferences, workshops and seminars related to your field and try to attend as many as possible. Not only will you be able to make new connections but you’ll also be able to learn more about the industry and have a better chance of impressing potential employers.
Practice Your Sales Pitch
Having a few sentences prepared to describe what you do and what makes you unique will help break the ice and start conversations. Practice your personal sales pitch in front of a mirror or in front of a friend to ensure that you’re conveying your message clearly and convincingly.
Be Sure To Follow Up
It’s important to follow up with any contacts you make whether it’s with a thank you note or a quick email. This will help you remain top of mind and keep the conversation going.
Networking doesn’t have to be intimidating. With some focus and effort even those with no prior experience can build their connections and make progress. Keeping these tips in mind will help you get started and build a strong professional network.