Advertising

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

Advertising
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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

More by this author

Carl Pullein

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

How to Become a Morning Person: 8 Steps to Kickstart How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity 7 Best Free Scheduling Apps That Make Scheduling Easier Why You Need Intermediate Goals And How To Set One 6 Golden Rules to Make Progress Towards Achieving Goals

Trending in Smartcut

1 10 Effective Ways To Make You a Fast Learner 2 8 Time Management Strategies for Busy People 3 50 LinkedIn Influencers To Follow, No Matter Your Industry 4 How to Break Bad Habits (The Only Effective Way) 5 15 Daily Rituals of Highly Successful People

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

Advertising
How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

Advertising

  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

Advertising

Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

Advertising

However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

Advertising

Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

Advertising

  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

Read Next