We are back to share with you the best tips for career networking in the final part of our series. Part 4 focuses on developing business relationships. Before continuing with the final part of the series, take a look at parts 1, 2, and 3 first!
Ongoing Career Networking: Continuous Developing of Business Relationships
I’m going to dive in and say this upfront. This is the type of networking that you should consider being simply a part of your job. Every month you should have this on your calendar once or twice a month. I promise, if you do this, it will be the next level for you. This is the way to change your career and your life. It doesn’t matter if you are an introvert or an extrovert…. either way you can create a strategy that works for you. And remember career networking is about offering help as well as asking for help.
Within Your Company
Let’s start by considering how to network in new environments. This might be when you are onboarding or if you are a consultant or freelancer this may happen each time you start a project. Either way, this is where you begin the process of understanding the people you are working with. Who are the players? What are their roles? Who has influence? Who are the decision-makers? Start to map out who is who in your organization so that you can work and strategize effectively. Then we recommend creating a networking plan. Set goals for having one on ones with people. In these meetings, build rapport, look for synergy, get to know that person and their goals, and essentially consider how you may be able to help them or add value to the connection.
As you do this and over time you can identify the people who make the most sense for you to continue to meet on a regular basis.
With Your Network Outside Your Company
Let’s note that there are many professional groups, incubators, accelerators, meet-ups, and networking groups such as CHIEF, Lunchclub, Round, and others where you can meet other professionals for networking and career development purposes.
Earlier in the job search section, we discussed sorting your network. In this section, you should do the same and discover the people you want to stay in touch with. There may be four or five or there may be twenty-five. However many people you have on this “inner circle” networking list, consider how many you have to meet each month in order to keep in touch with all of them at least once per year, and then map this out in your schedule. In this way, networking will simply be a part of your weekly work life. Eventually, this list of people and the people you contact when you are job searching are essentially the same. It’s your career network and you want to consistently nurture these valuable relationships.
Maybe your boss has asked you to attend an event, or you need to go meet some vendors, or there is an important annual conference. This is a different type of networking and one where you need to consider a different set of strategies.
Conference Tips to Help With Developing Business Relationships
We have a handout on building your professional and personal brand. Check that out to get some ideas of how you want to present yourself. In other words, you will want to craft a professional “elevator pitch,” a concise way of sharing who you are and why you are at this event. Make sure your elevator pitch connects in some way with the conference. Prepare it and practice it.
Engage with Attendees Using the Conference Hashtag
Check to see if the event you’re attending has a particular hashtag and use it to search across social networks and participate in discussions with your peers.
Do Your Research Ahead of Time
Identify the people and companies at the event that you want to connect with and research all about them beforehand. Using LinkedIn make sure you can recognize their faces and consider where during the event you might encounter them. Consider your connection points and what you can discuss with them and how you can add value. While doing your research, consider what your goals and objectives are for this conference and career networking. Consider what you have to offer to those you connect with.
Use the Conference Topics as Part of Your Networking
Take notes as you attend different talks and use this information as a way to connect with the other attendees.
Attend Outside Events
Going to dinners, after-parties, activities, and other events connected to the conference but being held outside of the conference can be an amazing way to meet people and build relationships. You can find some of these on social media using the conference hashtags and for large conferences, you can even check Eventbrite with that hashtag to find out what’s going on.
Bring Tangible Items
Conferences can be a long day. Bring everything you need to stay refreshed and present. This includes business cards, breath mints, gum, eyedrops, etc.
After the Conference Follow Up
This can be a very important step that some may overlook. Consider everyone that you met and connect with them on LinkedIn. Follow through on any to-do items that you promised anyone. Send out follow-up messages reminding people of the conversations you’ve had and what the points of synergy were. Did you meet someone that you want to stay in touch with? Add them to your ongoing networking list.
Questions You Can Ask Others (When You Feel Stuck)
- Tell me about yourself. I’m curious to hear…
- What brings you here? Aka How did you come to work here? What brings you to this conference?
- What’s exciting you right now? What do you feel the most engaged with right now?
- What are the biggest challenges you’re facing?
- Where do you think this industry is going? Where do you think this company is going? Where do you think this technology is going?
- Did you always want to work in this industry? What draws you to it?
- Do you think your career path is like most others in your position?
- What kind of professional development have you found to be the most worthwhile?
- What’s a fact about your position that you didn’t know before you were deep into it? What is a fact about the industry that you didn’t know until you were deep into it?
- What blogs do you follow? What podcasts do you listen to?
- Have you ever worked with a coach? What was that like?
- What do you think are the most important skills to be excellent in your role?
- (At a conference) What speakers have you heard so far that you really liked?
- What skills do you think are overemphasized in your industry? In your role? At your company?
- How have your professional goals changed over the years?
- I’ve been thinking about how we all have different motivators. What do you think motivates or drives you?
Going a Little Deeper
- Who is the most influential person in your life?
- What is your idea of a perfect fit for your role?
- How do you define success?
- What is the best compliment you’ve ever gotten?
Here at Ignite Your Potential we want to offer you quality information and strategies to get where you want to go and to meet your most challenging goals. Did you enjoy part 4 of our series on developing business relationships? We hope that there have been some useful takeaways from the entirety of our four-part series on the importance of career networking. Make sure you also take a look at parts 1, 2, and 3 of this series which discusses the importance of career networking.