Networking

How to Create Meaningful, Long-Lasting Connections in Your Industry

networking

Networking isn’t like learning SQL or earning a certification — you can’t pass a multiple-choice test and call yourself an expert. Networking is an art, and, arguably, a more important discipline than any hard skill you can learn.  

Cultivate an Executive Presence With These 3 Networking Tips

Harness Passive Connections on Social Media

Do you worry about how often to get in touch with a mentor, or when you should follow up with a new contact? Social media and LinkedIn give you an easy way to connect with your target audience without disturbing anyone.  

If you don’t have a large following on social media, you can change that. What’s the secret? Have an interesting professional life! 

Post pictures or videos at important industry events. Write a blog about a relevant topic that needs a unique perspective. Associate yourself with key decision-makers to cultivate an image of success.

If you do this well, your contacts will get in touch with you. When you start getting more online engagement, it means your connections are interested in what you have to say. Bring new information to the table every time you interact with a colleague online and in person.

Offer a Fresh Perspective

networkingPublishing is one of the easiest ways to position yourself as an expert among professional circles. Many well-circulated magazines, including Forbes, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, and Inc. accept pitches from guest contributors. You can reach out to the editing masthead directly or find information about applying on the publication’s website.  

For a faster turnaround time, you can also turn to other publications that invite users to self-publish. Popular blogging platforms like LinkedIn and Medium allow you to publish articles that can be tagged and look professional. For these types of websites, the more clicks you generate, the more visibility you’ll generate for your work.

It’s critical to use a catchy headline and promote your work with your contacts as soon as the article goes live. Post links to your work across social media channels and in groups to gain exposure; you might also want to consider adding a link to your work in your profile or email signature. 

There are many tenants of social media marketing strategy and PR, but here’s the main point: Offer a unique perspective on the most relevant and timely topics to drive engagement and initiate a dialogue. If people know you provide valuable insights, they’ll be more likely to pick up the phone when you call. Also, if a contact gets in touch with you based on your perspective on a subject, you’ll have something concrete to discuss.  

Learn to Listen

There’s a difference between listening and waiting to talk. 

You may think that you need to make an impression when you meet a hard-to-reach person. You want to seem like a person who knows how to have high-level conversations. But keep your comments short, and don’t exclusively center the conversation around promoting yourself or your work. Don’t launch into a pitch every time you talk.  

If you’re in the room talking with a key decision-maker, you’ve already proved your merit. Have a normal conversation, and try to listen as often as you speak. This will lead to a sense of mutual reciprocity and respect, and it might even inspire a productive collaboration. It’s better to be receptive than to be loud. 

If you find yourself in a disagreement, don’t get aggressive or contentious but stand your ground. You can often use humor to de-escalate tense situations. If you can make your target laugh genuinely, you’ve done your job.  

Practice active listening, engage with your network through passive channels, and increase your industry profile with online publications. These tips will give you a leg up in business, regardless of your industry. After that, fill in the gaps with colleagues, an alumni network, and family and friends.  

If you can master professional networking, it won’t feel like a chore — everything is an opportunity for collaboration. 


Practice your networking and job search skills by working one-on-one with a career coach from Ivy Exec


 

About the Author

Christa Donovan's expertise on the topic of career advancement and entrepreneurship comes from firsthand experience – she was fired from her cushy corporate job for being too out of the box! Since starting her own business, she has found great passion in helping other black sheep find their way and thrive in a world of expanding opportunities.