Ashley Lubey, senior copywriter and PR specialist with CMG Financial, shares these five steps to use networking to your advantage.
1. Follow up. You have met, conversed, and hopefully exchanged contact information. So what’s next? Do not just throw that card or piece of paper in a drawer. Reach out via email or LinkedIn to let that person know you appreciated their taking the time to talk with you as well as your intention to maintain contact and a mutually beneficial relationship.
2. Keep connecting. In line with following up, do not let the connection fade away. Maintain consistent contact with this person throughout the year. Let them know you will be at an event you think they might enjoy, send a greeting card, or let them know if you read an article they wrote and enjoyed it.
“One of the biggest mistakes made in networking is making the connection and letting it fizzle,” says Lubey.
3. Give. Don’t just take. We all want to make connections to help us advance our career or get to that next step in whatever it is we are pursuing. But rather than just using this person, be sure you are offering something in return. Each situation is unique so it can take some finessing to figure out what will be beneficial for them, but taking the time to do so will show your quality character and help out even more in your networking efforts.
4. Be the middleman. Rather than keep all those business cards for yourself, remember to help others network as well. Whether you have a friend who is looking for a job or a colleague looking for a Realtor, chances are you have a contact you can pass along in your arsenal of connections.
5. Take people up on offers. Networking is not the time to be shy and bashful. Put yourself out there in an appropriate and professional way. If a new connection has the power and offers to introduce you to yet another person who could potentially help you in the future, take them up on that offer. You never know where these networking connections could lead you.
“Get in your element and have fun with it,” says Lubey. “You will find your own groove in reaching out to people and making the connections that will help you in life.”
Networking can land a dream job, give you the inside scoop on a deal, or expand your industry connections; but the real trick is how to network successfully.