Networking is essential; it’s a crucial skill that needs to be refined, no matter what stage of life you’re in. It can help you professionally by landing you a job or a client and personally by enabling you to build up a strong social network, giving you certain recognition among your peers. Networking may be time consuming, but what you can get out of networking makes it worthwhile. To some, networking skills comes naturally; however, most of us have to work on refining such skills. If you’re a services professional, you can better understand the importance of networking, developing relationships and referrals. One of the most effective ways to improve your career prospects is to brush up on your networking skills.

Here are several tips on how you can transform your networking skills.

1. You MUST follow up after meeting.

The simple way to follow up is that before your conversation ends, you should have already arranged a follow up. You can accomplish this by promising to email a press release or copy of an interesting article, so that you can avoid the awkwardness when you want to contact someone but have no reason to do it. While meeting someone, if you discussed a particular topic, maybe you could do a little further research and send them an interesting article or point out a new blog on the subject.

At an event, exchange business cards or contact details with your new contacts. The next week, always remember to follow up with an email or phone call. Put your efforts to maintain the relationship; otherwise, you haven’t really networked at all.

2. You should use Social Media to connect.

With the frequent usage of web content over the last few years, there are millions of people who exchange their information through social media sites that offer email, news and updates on any topic under the sun. There are so many websites that facilitate networking among the professionals, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and InMail. These websites allow you to network with people who are not only from your profession, but of other professions as well. You can also connect with people who are senior to you; you are not limited to people of the same job status.

3. You must not overdo it.

You need to make a regular habit of reaching out to new people and connecting with them, even if you can’t find that many events to attend in your area. There’s always email, phone calls, and one-on-one meetings; you should strike a balance and ensure you don’t overdo it or people will start avoiding you. Also remember to keep in touch with your existing network.

4. You should have an open mind.

There are going to be people who will decline your follow ups or will ease out of your first conversation. Don’t be disheartened. Learn to let it go. There are going to be people in your life who you will just not click with—accept it and move on. Someone you might not like could be a great networker and surprise you with how helpful they can be.They might become your potential avenues for building some good contacts, including your student alumni, family and friends.

5. You should not get discouraged.

For some, networking skills are innate, and for others, they have to be developed. You should not get discouraged if you have trouble networking. Instead, be observant of your mistakes and learn to correct them in the future. Also, get help from your friends who have excellent networking skills, observe them and imitate them in certain situations to get a boost of confidence.

Remember, the key to networking is giving information, advice, your services, and your personality, and after this, you’ll be well on your way to establish strong, lasting business relationships.

Featured photo credit: www.sundaymag.tv via sundaymag.tv

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