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4 Quick and Effective Hacks for Successful Business Networking

4 Quick and Effective Hacks for Successful Business Networking

When I graduated from university, I wanted to be at every networking opportunity in the way that a small child wants to be at every birthday party. While all of the kids at a birthday would swing at a piñata for candy, all of the adults at a networking event are swinging at an invisible piñata of opportunity – so not too different, I guess. With a few spare minutes, I would search up every open networking brunch, party and event in Vancouver for that month. If possible, I would peruse into media meetups, and get myself onto lists for social hotspots where I could learn from other people, while also casually marketing myself to people I felt that I could work with.

With a few spare minutes, I would search up every open networking brunch, party and event in Vancouver for that month. If possible, I would peruse into media meetups, and get myself onto lists for social hotspots where I could learn from other people, while also casually marketing myself to people I felt that I could work with.

Finding a Better Balance

After speaking with several of my friends recently, it turns out that several of them are put off by the idea of a networking cocktail party, and I don’t blame them. After a while, making yourself consistently available during weeknights can be difficult, especially when you have other responsibilities and day jobs to be refreshed for. Not to mention knowing which chat topics work, when to throw your business card at someone, and being able to introduce yourself in a way that appears professional, yet relaxed and social.

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So I thought through which alternatives I have used and decided to make a list of quick networking tips for those who are tired of networking events and evenings, or for those who are perhaps not as comfortable in these settings. After all, it was thriving billionaire Richard Branson who suggested that a lack of life balance in ignoring our well-being may actually be what burns away our capabilities in the long term. For anyone aspiring to find a better balance, or find more time with your family, or even a few extra hours for the gym or the couch, this quick networking guide is for you!

  1. LinkedIn Messaging

One thing that I did do during my obsessive networking binge was gain connections through LinkedIn, and ACTUALLY converse with them; every conversation requires an initiation to begin, so I would direct questions to those who held impressive experiences under their name, in the hope that I could learn from them, and perhaps establish a mutual appreciation and understanding. This occurred on multiple occasions, and through this, I was able to gain advice I might not have found otherwise in my early twenties. I also gained access to more hush-hush events and hooked numerous tips on how to become more appealing in a professional sense.

Many of these individuals are people I am still in touch with today. So how do you decide who is best to contact? According to The Week, a great place to start is by envisioning that you have lost your job. Who would be the five to ten people you’d want to go to for advice? The worst thing that could happen is that they don’t have the time or desire to speak with you. At at that point, move on and connect with people who do want to speak with you!

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  1. Strategize Your Cocktail Party Endeavors

Given how effective personal connection can be, you could still attend a cocktail party, but with more premeditated thought. I know, many of you mentioned that you’re tired of cocktail evenings, but here’s where we can change it up. The Grindstone states that if you are able to research who is going to be there, and you find that there are three contacts that could drastically improve your vision and opportunity, focus specifically on finding and meeting them.

When I first started attending these types of events, I found myself trying to casually mingle with everyone, but this can be considered a weak approach, as receiving forty business cards is less powerful than three or four people who you made a deeper connection with through quick networking. If you know what you need to accomplish, make it happen, and deliver your message in a focused and direct way. This has you leaving earlier than you would have otherwise. Consider this as an ideal compromise.

  1. Follow Your Dream Contacts on Social Media

Sometimes, the best way to start a conversation is a post on social media, especially when it has been crafted by the person you are looking to connect with. According to Forbes, using social media to your advantage in business can allow for contacts to fall right into your lap. If someone posts something that you are curious about, ask them questions.

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If someone posts something that you enjoyed, share it and perhaps comment on how much you learned. Try to make this positive experience more about them, and less about promoting yourself. Surrounding yourself online with the content of clever people can also positively impact your thinking as well, and have you strive to be better at what you do.

  1. Encourage Conversation Through LinkedIn Pulse

If you already enjoy writing or are looking to learn from others, you might like the publishing feature on LinkedIn, known as LinkedIn Pulse. To summarize, you write and publish a blog-style post (often on something career-oriented that you are specialized in, or a response to something in the business world), and all of your connections are able to see it.

It might not seem like quick networking, but if you frame it to contain several questions, you may find that a few contacts reach out to you to give you their interpretation on your topic. Be sure to listen and show appreciation for their feedback (unless their feedback is highly rude and inappropriate). You can also send the link to your article to someone who you admire, and ask what their thoughts are on it.

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Conclusion

It seems that everyone can benefit from a dense network of compelling contacts. But not everyone is able to make the time to be out each night, networking until the break of dawn, and that is perfectly okay. Everyone is different, and there is not just one way to thrive and be successful. Hardcore attendance at local events worked for me, but so did quick networking. In fact, I was actually able to broaden my circle and establish more connections internationally, just by using these quick networking practices. If there are multiple methods to success, then why not sample the side that has your well-being in mind? it is important to acknowledge your health, as taking a break is professional, but burning out of steam on the job is not.

Featured photo credit: www.americancollegespain.com via americancollegespain.com

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Published on October 8, 2019

How to Advance Your Career (and the Big Mistakes You May be Making)

How to Advance Your Career (and the Big Mistakes You May be Making)

The late writer William S. Burroughs once said that “When you stop growing, you start dying.” It might have a morbid undertone, but it’s one hundred percent true in terms of one’s career.

The days of finding a job with one company that you can stick with for 30 years, and simply relax as you move up its company escalator are few and far between in today’s world. This isn’t necessarily bad news. On the contrary, it means that you’re the one in charge of shaping your career advancement.

By putting these principles and behaviors into practice, you’ll begin to see how to advance your career quickly. Ready? Let’s get started…

1. Define What Success Is for You

There’s no right or wrong definition of what success in your career looks like. The important thing is to figure out what success looks like for YOU. It might, and probably will, change along the way, but if you don’t have some sort of milestone on the horizon, then you won’t know which direction to go in.

Think about success in your career in terms of one year, five years, and 10 years. Once you have that, it’s time to lace up your boots and get to work.

2. Learn How to Develop and Follow a Plan

Nobody just stumbles upon success accidentally. Sure, they may stumble upon breakthroughs or new methods accidentally, but all success stories have one thing in common — a plan.

Establish a timeline for the things that you want to achieve in your career in the next year, five years, 10 years, and so on. Consider the skills that you’ll need to learn to make these things happen and work on acquiring them.

3. Surround Yourself With Those Better Than You

It’s a rule of thumb among musicians that if you want to get better, then you need to get out of the bedroom and play with people who are better than you.

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By surrounding yourself with people who are better than you and where you want to be, you’ll not only see how these people climbed to where they are in their respective fields, but you’ll learn from them and naturally want to push yourself to be better in your own job as well.

4. Seek Out a Mentor(s)

A mentor will not only be able to help you refine and reach your career goals, but will be invaluable in landing promotions and finding unadvertised job openings.

One unique approach is to work on fostering a relationship with a mentor both within and outside of your company. This will help in giving you different perspectives as you rise up through the ranks in your company and career overall.

5. Stop Wasting Your Mornings

You may not think you’re a morning person, but if you can learn to be one, you’ll thank yourself 10 years down the road.

Prepare a to-do list of tasks that you want to accomplish the day before and work on knocking them out for at least one hour before you respond to morning emails. The problem with responding to emails first, is you’re giving your attention to somebody else’s agenda, instead of plotting your own course for the day.

6. Arrange or Attend a Networking Party

If you’re attending networking events simply because you might get a few free drinks, you’re doing them wrong. These events are great for meeting new people and forming relationships. Your goal shouldn’t be to get hired by the end of the night, but to simply make a good impression by being friendly and authentic. So what’s next?

Reach out a few days later via email or on social media to follow up and connect!

7. Pick Up Some New Skills

Nobody wants to be the old dog that can’t learn any new tricks. To move up in your career, you’re going to likely need to pick up new skills along the way. Maybe your company offers on-the-job training or you have the option of taking online classes at night.

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By learning new skills, you’ll not only be able to expand upon what you can already do, but you’ll make yourself more valuable to your employer and future employers.

8. Exploit the Benefits Already at Your Disposal

Remember what we just said about the possibility of your company providing on-the-job training? Take advantage of these sorts of benefits!

If you’re working for a company that allows you to job shadow other employees or has company mixers, you should attend these. They not only allow you to develop your skills within the company, but show seasoned executives within your field that you’re interested in more than just clocking in for a paycheck.

9. Make Yourself Indispensable

Good help is hard to find and employers want to retain outstanding employees. If you can learn to make yourself indispensable to your company, you’ll not only communicate that you’re successful, but will have a lot more job security. What’s this entail though?

It’s actually not all that difficult. By being reliable, adapting to new challenges, and holding your own work and performance to a high standard, you’ll stand out among your peers and others will take notice. Easy enough, right?

10. Get Off the Fence

People who advance in their careers are those who don’t shy away from voicing their opinion and stand up with authority when the opportunity arises.

If a problem arises in your company and you think you might have a solution or are willing to work to find one, then let others know. Employers value and promote problem solvers. Start off with something small and work your way up towards tackling more difficult tasks and projects.

11. Don’t Wait for More Responsibility, Ask for It

If you want more responsibility in your job, then be open about it with your manager. Your manager may be so busy with their own work that they weren’t aware you were looking for more challenges.

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Just make sure you can handle it and that you already show strong performance in your current duties. And if your manager doesn’t seem supportive about offering you more responsibility, well, then it could be time to look for new employment.

12. Stop Wasting Time on What You Don’t Want

If your career goals start with “I should do this…” there could be a problem. This kind of language in referring to goals can doom them to failure because the want isn’t there.

Consider using the RUMBA method (Reasonable, Understandable, Measurable, Behavioral and Agreed) when setting your goals. That “agreed” part should really be “want.” By going after career goals that you actually want to accomplish, you’re much more likely to achieve them.

13. Seek Out Feedback and Apply It

Simply doing your job might not always push you up in your career advancement. Too often, employees just assume that their bosses will notice their performance strides and reach out when the time is right to advance.

Don’t be afraid to regularly seek out feedback and ask for constructive criticism. It not only shows that you value your manager’s opinion but demonstrates that you care about your job and want to become better in your chosen field.

14. Pick Your Bosses Wisely

Advancing in your career can move a lot quicker if you’re working for the right people. If your boss isn’t any good at their job or doesn’t value you, then moving up could become difficult.

A great boss though, will be able to help you capitalize on your strengths and be an advocate for your success. If there aren’t any strong developers of talent in your management chain already, then look around for some and seek them out as mentors.

15. Learn to Develop Your Sense of Timing

The odds of asking for a promotion or raise are in your favor with over 70 percent of respondents to a survey from PayScale reporting some success. One thing to keep in mind that can make all the difference is when you ask.

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Some corporate cultures may prefer that employees reach out about advancement during their annual review, but maybe you work for a more free-spirited startup. The best approach may be to take note of when others advance and ask about how the organization handles employee development.

16. Work Hard and Promote Yourself

Working hard and delivering a solid job performance are the keys to advancing in your career no matter what field you’re in. This doesn’t mean you need to be completely humble about your accomplishments either.

Keep a record of your positive impact within the organization and let others both within your company and your field know that you’re enthusiastic about your role and work.

17. Don’t Just Build Your Network… Cultivate It

It’s way too easy to add new people to your LinkedIn network and then forget about them for all eternity. Rather than just collecting business cards or social media contacts, you should be cultivating relationships with the ones you already have.

Follow up with people that you haven’t spoken to in a while, offer to connect them with somebody you know in their field, or ask about a new job title they may have taken on. Doing so could be the spark that leads to a potential job referral.

18. Join a Professional Organization

The National Association of (insert your industry here) and other professional organizations can still offer a great wealth of advantages from networking to industry insights, and skill development.

Even outside of professional organizations dedicated to particular job fields, civic organizations can also be fantastic for making new contacts. After all, so much about career advancement is who you know, and you never know who you’ll meet who knows somebody else who is looking for someone with your skills and experience.

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Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com

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