GUEST POST from Kim Hsieh
Whether you work for a Fortune 500 company, own a small business, or are a blogger like me, professional networking is a key to success. Here are five ways you can become a rock star at networking (even if it scares you).
1. Adjust your point of view
Some people have a negative connotation of networking. They often think you’re talking to someone just to get something from them, but that’s the exact opposite of what professional networking should be. I never understood the power of networking until I was given an opportunity I wouldn’t have been given if it wasn’t for networking. I was interested in what they were doing at work and kept in contact with them.
It’s not about greed when it comes to professional networking, it’s about generosity. Contacting someone with the intention of getting something from them will get you nowhere because they can see right through it. Having a genuine interest in the work they do is a great first step, and remember to not keep score. Here’s a great read from The Muse about shifting your mindset about networking.
2. Understand your brand
What do you want people to remember you for? What do you want to be known for? It’s important to have a brand so people can easily remember what you’re known for. It might take a while to figure out what you want to be known for, so start thinking!
Figuring out what your niche is will help you strengthen your personal brand because it differentiates you from others. There are many fashion and lifestyle bloggers, and my blog focuses on fashion and lifestyle through the eyes of a New York City consultant. Want to learn more about creating a personal brand? Check out this complete guide from master marketer Neil Patel or this fun read from Jordan Ring.
3. Finish with suave
Once you’ve met someone, shared your brand, and had a good conversation, what’s next? Exiting a conversation, especially in person, can be difficult. If you’re at a networking event, you can introduce the person to someone they might be interested in talking to and then politely excuse yourself. This doesn’t leave the person alone, and also shows you offer value as a connector. If you’re engaged in a conversation online, you can thank the person and say you look forward to connecting with them again. Saying thank you seems basic, but many people fail to do it so it will make a great impression.
4. Find mentors and mentees
If you’re new to the business world, you should find mentors. A mentor should be someone you look up to, someone who does things you’re interested in, someone you can genuinely connect with, and someone who can help you with your goal. Get tips for finding your perfect mentor here (networking events are a great place to start).
If you’re a few years into your career and successful, it’s time to find mentees. Remember you used to have mentors too, and networking is about generosity. Whoever your mentees are might not be able to give you many connections or help you work towards your goal, but you can help them, just like how your mentors helped you.
5. Curate your stream
We live in a digital age, so don’t t forget about online networking. Whether you engage in forums or Twitter conversations, it’s all about curating your stream so it’s a learning network. When you open Twitter, Facebook, or your email, you want to have notifications for meaningful content.
Knowing what your friends are up to is a big part of social media, but another great part is you can follow/like/subscribe to blogs or websites that have information you want to learn. Remember just being part of an online forum or Facebook group is meaningless unless you are engaged in the content by actively participating. That’s how we learn from our online learning network. Check out these great tips for using social media as a networking tool.
Kimberly Hsieh graduated with a degree in Mathematics and Business Administration, and now works as a consultant at a Fortune 500 firm. As a consultant, she focuses on digitizing businesses through data analytics. She loves all things pretty, which is why she started a blog that focuses on fashion and lifestyle through the eyes of a New York City consultant. You can follow her on Instagram or Facebook.
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