5 Hard-and-Fast Rules of Networking

Networking is just as important online as it is offline, and many marketers just don’t get that. They never go to live conferences where they can meet people. They just sit at their computer thinking they can go it alone. You gotta have friends. After almost 10 years in this business, I can unequivocally say that having good friends, who other people look up to, or friends who know about aspects of this business that you don’t can save you tons of time and money.  My friend Ryan Currie has more to say on this topic. I hope you enjoy his article…

5 Hard-and-Fast Rules of Networking networking: shake hands

In today’s competitive atmosphere, networking skills are becoming more and more important. Productive personal and professional relationships are the building blocks to a successful job search, and can also help immensely when trying to gain momentum in a new career or business venture. Do you want to be that wallflower waiting for good things to come to you? Or would you rather be that confident go-getter out there making things happen on your own?

Good networking skills can be the key to getting that next profitable lead or landing that dream job. People often overlook how important networking and interpersonal skills are because they assume their careers will flourish based on talent or skill. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Here are a few rules to remember when using your networking skills to further any endeavor you may take on.

Rule 1: Don’t be afraid to ask.

Everyone knows it is difficult to ask for favors. Most people pride themselves on their ability to get things done on their own, but the bottom line is that we all need some help in order to reach our goals. People you already know may not seem like valuable contacts, but they are a great place to start when trying to make new ones. Reach out to them and ask them if they can help connect you with others who might be interested or helpful in whatever you are trying to achieve. You will be surprised at people’s kindness and willingness to help a friend in need.

Rule 2: Be prepared

You never know when that chance of a lifetime networking opportunity will come up. That person who could bring your career to the next level might be standing in front of you in line at the coffee shop, or sitting next to you on the train on your way home from work. It is always a good idea to carry a few business cards containing your contact information to hand out on the fly. Also, always keep your resume updated and ready for distribution.

Rule 3: Be clear and concise

Networking events can be overwhelming for even the friendliest of social butterflies. Don’t let your nerves cloud the message you want to get across. It might help you to practice what you will say with a trusted confidante. Make sure you can get your point across quickly because people at these events often move along and try to speak with as many people as possible. Your friend can help you clear up anything that might be confusing or unclear. They can also give you a good idea of questions you might get asked so you can have short, effective answers prepared.

Rule 4: Look the part

Appearance has been shown to affect success. If you want people to believe that you are of a certain caliber, you must make sure that you are dressed and groomed in a way that reflects that. Networking often entails making the most of short encounters, so present yourself in a way that makes you feel good, and allows others to form positive opinions about you. We may not like the fact that we are constantly being judged on our appearances, but there is nothing we can do to change it. Get used to looking the way you want to be seen.

Rule 5: Keep at it

Networking can be exhausting and sometimes even disheartening. You will inevitably meet people who are rude or disinterested in what you are trying to accomplish. Do not let these people kill your confidence. Even though it is difficult, networking will eventually pay off. Once you have a solid network of people you can call on for advice or help things will get much easier. Your network will begin to grow exponentially, and you will be glad you stuck with it.

Keeping these five simple rules in mind will help you on your networking journey. This skill is one that you will use for the rest of your life, so learning to do it effectively is immeasurably important. If you practice these skills, soon you may even be passing them on to those in the new network you have built!

Ryan is a Product Manager at BizShark.com, with 5 years experience in online marketing and product development.  In addition to web related businesses, he also enjoys the latest news and information on emerging technologies and open source projects.