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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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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up.

You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out. But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

Check out these important listening skills: 13 Powerful Listening Skills to Improve Your Life at Work and at Home

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

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4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

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These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

Not sure how to find the right mentor? Here’s How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

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You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

More About Continuous Growth

Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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