How to network like a pro

By Hillary Morgan | Digital Media Intern

A skill that’s important in any line of work is the ability to network. Bianca Male ofBusiness Insider puts it simply: “Knowing the right people can get you places that you might not reach otherwise.” Forging these deep connections can help you secure a job, move up in your industry, and find more opportunities to expand your business. Seems pretty important, doesn’t it? There’s actually a lot more to networking than many people think.

GET NOTICED

To network, first you need to show up. How can anyone connect with you if you don’t put yourself out there? Dr. Ivan Misner of Business Network International advises, “Networking is a contact sport! You have to get out and connect with people.” This means going to industry mixers; joining professional associations, groups and clubs related to your field; and being active on social media sites.

MAKE REAL CONNECTIONS

Many view networking as simply handing out business cards to anyone and everyone you meet and hoping for the best. Author Andrew Sobel disagrees with this approach. In an article for Inc.com, he recommends creating quality contacts rather than focusing on the quantity of contacts you have. He says, “There is a penchant to meet lots and lots of people. It’s fueled a bit by social media, where we’re told we need large numbers of Twitter follower, followers of our blogs, LinkedIn connections and Facebook friends,” but this superficial level of connection is rarely helpful for most people. It’s more important to forge solid relationships with a smaller number of contacts that you actually know and trust.

MAINTAIN CONNECTIONS

Bianca Male of Business Insider makes it a point to say, “Your network will be useless if you don’t maintain it.” Whether you call them, send an email or note, or simply share their links on your social media, you will be taking steps to maintain a relationship with your connection. Sobel shares an anecdote about a peer from college who contacted him with the hope of gaining an investor for his new business. The problem was, “I hadn’t heard from him in 30 years.” He continued, “He did not maintain a relationship with me, and he didn’t evoke my curiosity.”

DON’T UNDERVALUE ANYONE

Anyone you meet has the potential to help you. In an Forbes article, Andrew Vest says, “Someone you meet may ‘just’ be a clerk, but they may have valuable connections or knowledge you’d never learn about if you’d dismissed them.” This also includes people outside of your industry. These people may have information that you would not have otherwise been privy to.

UTILIZE SOCIAL MEDIA

In today’s age of Twitter and Instagram, it’s important to connect online as well as in person. Adding someone on LinkedIn can help you meet potential connections, or maintain your current network.

NEVER ASK FOR A JOB

CareerCast recommends never approaching a contact to ask for a job. It’s much more useful to ask for information or leads, because asking someone for a job can make them uncomfortable which may destroy your connection.

GIVE

Sobel says, “The greatest networkers I know genuinely like to help others.” It’s possibly more important to give to your connections than to ask them for help. Sharing information and connections with your connections builds a sense of trust. Make sure your contact knows you are there if they need anything.

If you follow all of these tips, you’ll be on the road to successful networking. Above all else, remember to make true connections and maintain those connections. According to Misner, “Networking is more about farming than it is about hunting. It’s not just about who you know – it’s about how well you know them.”

 

Utilizing Your Business Card

By Hillary Morgan | Digital Media Intern

Even in today’s digitally driven world, the business card remains the simplest, most powerful marketing tool you can use when meeting potential business connections in person.

According to Melissa Stanger of Business Insider, “your business card isn’t just a calling card, it’s a snapshot of your brand.” This makes business cards extremely important when making your first impression. It can be difficult to know what to include, what not to include, and how to make your card stand out. Sounds like a lot of pressure, huh? Here are a few helpful tips:

  • Make them unique: Create an interesting design, or use an eye-catching pattern. You can even play with textures, or shapes. However, depending on your field, it may be best to go for a more traditional card. According to Rieva Lesonsky of the U.S. Small Business Administration, you should be careful not to get carried away. She writes, “I still remember a metal business card someone gave me back in the 1980s. Why? Because I tossed it in my purse and one of the sharp corners tore a hole in the lining.”
  • Remember to connect online: Update your card by including not just the address of your business, but also any relevant social media pages, such as Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, where you’re likely to engage with people on a professional level.
  • Consider a QR code: Adding a QR code can be helpful for your connections, making it easier for them to connect with you, or your business, online.
  • Keep your card simple: Try not to clutter your card with information that’s not useful, such as a Pinterest account that you don’t really use. Also, make sure your text is easily readable.
  • Quality over quantity: Josh Spiro, of Inc.com, writes, “A snazzy business card is no good if you hand it out left and right.” He recommends only passing along your business card when you make a genuine connection. It’s not going to be helpful for you to hand them out to every single person you meet, as the people who aren’t actually interested will simply throw them out. Make your cards count by giving them to people who are actually interested in your business.

Following these tips will help you and your business card to make a valuable impression on potential clients, and give you a leg up when marketing yourself in person.


North Coast Media, LLC • Privacy Policy • © 2024