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How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

Networking has been around for a very long time. From the early days of the Royal Society in the late 1600s when gentlemen gathered together to share scientific discoveries and make connections with like-minded people, to today where people connect to advance careers and share knowledge and career advice. It has been a way for humans to learn, discover and advance for hundreds of years.

As with all forms of communication, there are many different ways to master the art. Here are a few alternative ways on how to network that can help you to advance your career and professional life.

1. Networking is about giving, not just receiving

The best networkers share their ideas and knowledge.

The mistake is to think of networking as a way to receive; when in reality, if you want to get the most out of networking, giving and sharing your knowledge will develop your spheres of influence and expand the number of people who will help you much faster.

Sharing your knowledge will also encourage people to introduce you to other, like-minded people and expand your network.

2. Become known as an expert in your field

One of the best ways to become better at networking is to become known as the expert in your field. To do this, you need to read, listen and learn everything you can about your area.

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This could be anything from knowing what trends are growing in your industry to understanding how new technologies such as blockchain and AI are affecting your business area.

When you become known as an expert in your field people will seek you out, rather than you having to seek people out and your network will grow organically.

3. Always have time for other people

In a world where we feel overwhelmed by work and commitments, it is hard to find the time for additional activities. But the best networkers always find the time to develop relationships, meet new people and exchange ideas and views.

You never know when you might meet a person who could give your career the boost it needs. So being open to meeting new people will expand your network, open up opportunities and could result in your next career opportunity.

If someone in your network suggests you meet with someone, make sure you take the time to meet that person and get to know them.

4. Write a blog, start a podcast or a YouTube channel

One of the best ways I have found to build a thriving network is to write a blog or create a podcast or YouTube channel.

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Often these activities are seen as a way to build a client base; yet over the years I have been writing, recording and producing content online, I have developed an amazing network of friends in my field from all over the world.

Many of those friends also produce content online and we have shared each other’s content and given tips, ideas and have opened doors for each other that would previously have remained closed.

5. Never burn your bridges

I learned this a long time ago.

You never know what your colleagues, clients and school friends will do in the future. No matter what you think of a person, remaining on good terms with them will help build a long and deep list of people you can go to for help in the future.

When you burn your bridges, not taking the time to reply their emails, messages or phone calls, you destroy connections that may in the future allow you to develop your career and knowledge base.

I’ve received tips and connections from some of my old school friends who are in the broadcasting industry, legal advice from former colleagues who are now partners in their own law firm, and referrals from some of my old drinking buddies.

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Remaining on good terms with former schools friends, colleagues and hometown friends has been a mine of helpful tips and advice.

6. See each new connection as an opportunity to share

Whether you are on a train or a flight and start a conversation with the person sitting next to you, or you are meeting new people at a conference, always see it as an opportunity to share rather than an opportunity to gain.

The best networkers not only know how to use their network, but they also understand that in order for their network to grow and remain effective, they need to be developing their connections regularly.

The fastest way to grow your network is to see each new introduction as a way to share something useful. When you share something useful with a new acquaintance, they are much more likely to help you in the future.

7. Use social media

Social media has revolutionized the way we communicate and in doing so, it has opened up opportunities that can allow us to build a global network of friends.

Get yourself involved in groups that are related to your field, ask and answer questions and get to know the people sharing ideas and tips.

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I know social media can destroy a productive day, a good way to do this is to set aside time each day to read through the groups you are a member of, and answer a question or pose a question yourself.

Being active in these social media groups gets you noticed and allows you to share your knowledge with other people. I have met numerous people through these groups who have introduced me to business opportunities that would otherwise have remained closed to me.

Bonus tip: Stay away from discussing religion and politics!

In the past, we shared business cards; today we give people our LinkedIn or Facebook names.

If you are posting your political views in these places, it will kill your network. No matter what your religious or political beliefs are, there will always be people who do not share those views. At a time when political and religious beliefs have become polarising, it is safer to stay away from these areas.

Be completely neutral on these topics and you will be safe. Offer an opinion on these topics and you will be dragged into a debate that could tarnish your networking opportunities for a very long time.

Final thoughts

Networking can be hard and time-consuming, but it can also open up opportunities to you that would otherwise remain closed off.

Maintaining an open mind to meeting new people, having a sharing mindset rather than a receiving mindset and becoming known as an expert in your field will bring benefits to you. And that will help you grow your career and influence over time.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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Carl Pullein

Dedicated to helping people to achieve their maximum potential through better time management and productivity.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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