Professional Networking is Personal
If you don’t recognize that all business has a personal component then you are missing out on probably the most important dynamic in professional relationships and networking. The truth is ALL of your relationships matter. Too often people are trying to grow their businesses or their career and the people in their personal social relationships don’t know what they are trying to achieve.
Some people think that if their friends or family are not in the same line of work that they can’t help. Nothing could be further from the truth. Everyone you know is already informally a part of your network and so is everyone they know.
Where Do Professional Relationships Begin?
Our professional relationships don’t begin at work. Our professional relationships start with our general reputation. This does not mean that you should be obsessing about what people think. It also does not mean you have to be perfect or likable all of the time. You can’t become overly concerned with what any one person thinks about you. However, you must be interested in repairing relationships when possible.
The most important opinion about who you are is your own. Your professional relationships begin with what you think and feel about you.
- Do go to events where you can meet a variety of professionals in person, like conferences.
- Be interested in other people. Genuine interest in others shows. Curiosity is an easy “go to” if you practice it.
- Do have a wing person if you can. They don’t have to stay by your side, but they do give you an authentic reason to “have to go,” so that you can move on.
- Initiate dialogue with people. Start with “Hello.” It’s simple but tried and true. From there, see #2 (show interest).
- Ask how you can stay connected. You might exchange e-mail addresses, social media, or business cards.
- Be open. Body language lets people know whether you want to talk or not. Start with a smile or at least a pleasant disposition.
- Notice when the dialogue is naturally coming to a close. Say “Thank you” and/or “Nice to meet you,” and move on. Transition doesn’t have to be awkward. You are not expected to talk to someone indefinitely.
- Don’t focus on selling, instead share what seems relevant about what you do and who you are. Share common interests or experiences that connect with the person you are talking too…at the same time… don’t get too caught up in your own story.
- Don’t repeatedly ask a person to get together for lunch or for a phone call if they don’t say yes or show an interest in that level of engagement. Professional relationships like all relationships evolve naturally.
- Don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t jump at the chance to partner on a project, or if they don’t offer support or guidance. People don’t owe you their support. It’s best to recognize that they have a whole life and obligations that have nothing to do with you.
- Don’t ask people for free products, services or favors. People will let you know if they want to offer you something.
- Don’t let anxiety stop you. Get help for anxiety if you have it so that you can engage in networking.
Networking Pro Tip
Genuineness is key. If the suggestions under “do” seem like they are outside of your comfort zone, work on them. Your professional relationships can and do extend to your personal capacity.
Always and only say and do things that are true, honest and authentic for you. If you can stand by your professional values and integrity, you can stand next to anyone and hold an engaging dialogue.
Copyright © 2018 Ruby Blow. All rights reserved.