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Published on November 26, 2020

9 Tips on How To Network the Right Way

9 Tips on How To Network the Right Way

We’ve all heard the phrase “it’s all about who you know” in regards to landing a job. This really isn’t an exaggeration when it comes to the job market. Having the right connection can make all the difference between “you’re hired” and chirping crickets.

Studies suggest that 70 percent of jobs are never advertised on job classifieds and 80 percent of positions are filled because somebody knew somebody.[1] That’s right, a connection is paramount if you want to get your foot in the door and secure that dream job you’ve had your eye on.

When it comes to making those connections and learning about the unannounced job roles, networking is the key to the castle. Sure, credentials are still important, but if a person knows how to network the right way, they have an advantage that will be of serious benefit throughout their professional lives.

Before we jump into how to network the right way, it would be beneficial to spend a moment talking about what not to do. Avoid the mistake of only networking when you need a job. Reaching out to network only when you need something won’t help foster a genuine connection and gives off the stench of desperation. Networking should be about building mutually beneficial relationships, not self-serving ones.

Alright, let’s dive into how to go about developing a networking strategy that’s about more than collecting business cards and LinkedIn connects.

1. Make a List of Who You Already Know

There’s a real good chance that you already know a lot more people than you think. One of the best ways to network and expand your connections is by reconnecting with those you already know. Scroll through your social media feeds and jot down those folks that you maybe haven’t spoken to in a while.

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A few circles to consider:

  • Past jobs
  • Old friends from college
  • Church acquaintances
  • Hobby groups or sports league teammates

The idea here is to start with who you already know — particularly those that may be in or have connections to your career field. Even if it’s somebody that you haven’t spoken to in years, add them to the list. Casting a wide net is better than a single line here.

2. Reach Out to Those Established Connections

Now’s when you simply want to reach out to some of these connections. Something as simple as a quick email asking how they’ve been and what they’ve been up to is a great way to get started.

Blasting off an email or text to somebody you haven’t spoken to in six years might feel awkward, but don’t let that deter you. You should trust that they’ll probably enjoy hearing from you and catching up.

It’s not just about who you know, but who they know as well. Set aside your pride and ask if they know anybody in your related field they could introduce you to. Remember, the people you know are your allies when it comes to expanding your network and building new professional relationships.

3. Listen and Learn

Expanding and building a network of strong networking connections involves a mindset that’s focused on listening and learning.[2] Whether you’ve emailed a connection that an old work colleague gave you, or you’re making small talk with a stranger at a business conference, an eagerness to learn goes a long way. It shows you have a natural interest in the other person and what they do.

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If the person is working in the field that you’re trying to break into, now’s your time to come with a few questions regarding what their role looks like or any advice they might have regarding the field. You should be listening twice as much as you’re speaking.

4 Look for How You Can Be Useful

It’s easy to think of networking as a way of getting something for yourself, but that’s not the goal here. The goal is to build new relationships. It’s out of those that opportunities come along.

A good mindset to have in networking is to think about how you might be able to contribute or add value — without the expectation of something in return. It’s just this sort of mind flip that can make a big difference.

You may know somebody who is perfect for a role their company is looking to fill, but how you add value may not even be career-related. For example, perhaps during your conversation, they mention a love of biking and you know somebody who runs a cycling hobbyist group. Put that out there! It’s those sorts of interactions that lay the groundwork for building relationships.

5. Put Your Successes Out There

There’s a good possibility that at some point during networking, somebody is going to ask about what it is you do. This is your chance to share just what it is that’s so special about you, so be ready. Share what you’ve done in the past and why you’re passionate about your chosen field or the field you’d like to be in.

You’ll probably want to keep this relatively short, a few sentences or 90 seconds should suffice. If they want to know more, they’ll certainly ask.

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6. Expand Your Potential Networking Horizons

Scroll through your mental rolodex of people you know for a second. You probably know at least one person who is always doing something with one group or another, right? And this person probably knows everybody and their cousin, right? Well, there’s a good reason for that — they put themselves out there.

Networking mixers are fine, but they can also be counterproductive and feel more like business card trading events. Joining professional or civic groups can be a fantastic way of meeting new people, as can volunteering or various hobbyist groups.

Even if the event or group isn’t business-related, there’s still value in making and building upon new connections.

7. Don’t Just Scroll LinkedIn, Be Active

LinkedIn was built for networking, but a lot of us are probably guilty of not making the most of it. Not to worry, there’s an easy fix for this, it just means getting off your digital butt and getting active.

Rather than simply scrolling your feed, engage with the content you see. Like it, share it, comment on it — and add your own content. This could be an article you really enjoyed, a professional milestone, or simply an observation about an aspect of your industry.

You don’t need to get obsessive about engaging with a connection’s content on LinkedIn, but by regularly doing so, you’ll slowly build a familiarity with one another. Check out this article and learn how to network on LinkedIn: How to Network on LinkedIn (6 Dos and Don’ts)

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8. Follow up and Nurture Those Connections

People aren’t sitting around thinking about ways they can offer you a great job. You have to present the possibility for that to happen and this means staying in touch with networking connections.

If you recently met somebody at an event, through another contact or simply connected on LinkedIn, a good rule of thumb is to send an email or text a day or two later. It doesn’t need to be anything complicated, simply “enjoyed meeting you” or “thanks for the advice” will work.

Take the time to occasionally touch base and maintain this new connection, but be patient. Remember, networking the right way is about organically fostering a professional relationship.

9. Make Everyday Networking Part of Your Life

There’s no reason to wait for a big networking event, there are opportunities to network, build, and strengthen connections all the time.

Make it a goal for yourself to reach out to a few of those old LinkedIn contacts that you haven’t spoken to since you connected with them five years ago. Chat with your neighbors and the guy or gal who makes your morning cup of coffee. And do it over and over again.

Adopting the mindset of making everyday networking a part of your life will eventually make it feel like second nature!

More Networking Tips

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU @soyhivan via unsplash.com

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Chris Porteous

The CEO of Grey Smoke Media / My SEO Sucks, helping entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.

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Published on January 7, 2021

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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  1. Respect deadlines
  2. Understand the work-flow plan
  3. Build in time to mess up

1. Respect Deadlines

Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

3. Build in Time to Mess Up

You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

1. Learn to Listen Well

You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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3. Follow Rules

Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

4. Take Notes

Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

9. Minimize Distractions

It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

10. Take Breaks

It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

11. Make Time for Reflection

At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

Final Thoughts

Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

Reference

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