You will often hear that networking is one of the best ways to get ahead in the business world. However, for many people, networking is not a natural behavior and often feels forced or insincere. As a result, you may decide to forego networking and advance on your own without assistance. Unfortunately, this method often slows career growth. Everybody needs help on occasion and networking can be a positive experience for both parties.
Below are a few tips that can help you become more comfortable with networking:
You should look at networking as a way to help your career as well as others. You are more likely to make legitimate connections when your intentions are not self-serving. By seeking to help others, you will inadvertently help yourself.
The goal of networking is not to meet as many people as you can, but rather to form real connections with people who are relevant to your goals. Figure out who you want in your network, their industry, position and how you might connect with them on a career level.
In the beginning of any networking relationship, you should generally be the first to offer help. You don't have to perform grandiose favors, but a small gesture can go a long way when establishing relationships.
Just as you are looking for relationships to enhance your career options, so will the people you connect with. As a result, you need to provide value to them. This can be as simple as providing some information or putting them in contact with someone who can help them directly. Most people will be eager to help you when they see your generosity.
Don't focus solely on connecting with your network. Sometimes the best way to help build relationships is by introducing them to others in your network. Big things can happen just from introducing two like-minded people.
Some of the best connections start out unrelated to business. Take time to get to know their personal interests and hobbies. By starting out casual, you can build up trust before engaging in business discussions.