26 Professionals Share Their Networking Tips

Most of us are tired of hearing that clichéd saying of “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” But regardless of how much you may hate having to network, it’s probably going to be necessary for you no matter what industry you happen to be in. That’s why we’re publishing this compilation of great networking tips different people have sent us — to help give you some ideas on what you should and shouldn’t be doing when it comes to networking.

Here’s the question we asked people:

For people who have built up a strong professional network, what have you learned and can share about networking that would be useful to people just starting their careers? All comments welcome.

In the 100+ responses we collected in total (we’ve published just the best ones below), the biggest point that was stressed was that you should add value to the life of whoever you’re networking with, and not only think in terms of what they can do for you (or potentially will do for you down the line). As one commenter put it, “share things which can help another person and also start a great conversation.” So, always keep that in mind whenever you’re reaching out to someone in any way.

But beyond that, these are the main points people have brought forward:

  • Be original, and try to ask engaging questions tailored to what the person actually does (link)
  • Meeting through referrals is easiest (link)
  • Be sincere and authentic (link, link)
  • Always follow up (link, link)
  • LinkedIn is a goldmine for networking (link)
  • If you are using LinkedIn to network, put some effort into your profile (link) (EDITORS NOTE: See our community discussions on how to write a LinkedIn summary and how to use LinkedIn to find a job for some excellent comments on how to make LinkedIn work for you)
  • Recommending your contacts to others who might need them will make it far more likely they will also refer your business to their contacts (link)
  • Have the courage to approach people who may be too busy for you (link)
  • Be organized about keeping track of your contacts. You can keep a network tracking spreadsheet in Excel (link)
  • Similarly, keep some notes about each contact (link)
  • See if you can join your local Chamber of Commerce, if there is one (link), and see if there are local business conferences and events in your city connected to your industry (link) along with job fairs and professional organizations (link)
  • Do not neglect people already in your network (link)
  • Listen more (link)
  • Put some thought into how you answer the “What do you do?” question (link)
  • Focus on quality over quantity (link)
  • Networking doesn’t have to be a chore (link)
  • Request referrals, reviews, and feedback from satisfied clients (link)

I've found that people give a damn when you actively listen to them and ask them questions that aren't standard. As a marketer, I regularly ask fellow marketers questions like 'How well does social convert into leads for you', 'Have you found that [value proposition 1] works better with a specific audience?' and questions like this. Answering questions like these are so much better than 'oh yeah, how's that industry going?'. Engage and ask questions specifically about their role - where were you before the company you're at now? Be original, this builds that rapport, and then later down the track, you're remembered.

--Phil Forbes, Packhelp

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#phil

The best and easiest way to meet people is through referrals. Stick around with the people you already know and who know the people you are looking to meet. Being introduced through them or joining in with their conversations, you will very likely receive a warm welcome an introduction to the person you wanted an introduction to. This is a similar effect to LinkedIn through their online introduction tool, or even through joining the right circle at an event with somebody you know.

--Joe Wilson, MintResume

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#joe

A little sincerity and authenticity goes a long way. Yes, you should put your best foot forward when networking, but don’t try to be someone you’re not. Don’t oversell or embellish your accomplishments because people will see right through you. And once you come off as someone who isn’t real about themselves, people will tune out.

--David Weingot, DMAC Security

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#david

Always follow up. You meet an individual at an event, chat with them a bit, exchange cards, and arbitrarily make plans to meet or work together sometime in the future. Unfortunately, for most the story ends here. The business card becomes a historical artifact on your shelf or in your wallet. But it doesn't have to be this way because there's one little secret that you can use to your advantage: it's called contacting the person.

It's literally as simple as that. If you feel you connected with the individual, then give them a call and ask them to meet sometime. And it doesn't matter who calls who first, what matters is that you take that first step in order to grow your network. This shows the other party that you're actually interested and this could drive business opportunities your way.

Networking is by no means easy. You have to get out of your comfort zone and most of the time you will fail. But consistency is key here. You want to approach people who you find interesting and actually want to get to know. This brings me to my second point i.e. don't network just for the sake of networking. If the other individual finds out you're only talking to them to grow your network, they're going to lose interest very quickly. Therefore, be a genuinely interested person and frankly, be authentic with them.

--Chris Brenchley, Surehand

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#chris

I suggest LinkedIn as the best networking tool on the planet. It's an ideal place to start building a professional network, especially for young people or anyone starting or changing their career, especially in the current situation where many in-person networking opportunities have been canceled.

I suggest LinkedIn for the following reasons:

1) Low barrier to entry. All it takes to start is to show up, create a basic profile, and connect with the first couple of dozens of people a person knows. A professional network tends to grow from there, due to how LinkedIn's algorithm works.

2) It's easy to stand out if you post original content. LinkedIn thrives on content, which is in high demand, but the supply of quality content is relatively low. This means that if a person starts writing anything thoughtful and original on Linkedin, chances are high that their network will start growing immediately. People on LinkedIn immediately notice when new people show up who are willing to regularly publish their own posts and comment on other people's posts.

3) People are eager to connect with other people on LinkedIn. It does not matter that someone is relatively inexperienced or young. Anyone who is willing to discuss in a respectful manner is welcome on LinkedIn. A newbie on the platform can simply request to connect with other people who post interesting stuff, and they will most likely approve the request.

4) Young voices are encouraged and actively helped on Linkedin. LinkedIn users thrive on diversity of opinions. I can't think of any other social network where a young person's opinion would be better accepted than on LinkedIn. Seniors are even willing to help out with LinkedIn and networking tips, if you ask them.

5) (Last but not least) It's still easy to access high-profile people. (On LinkedIn, it's even easy to access and talk to the CEO of LinkedIn himself.) Many CEOs and heads of departments are present there, constantly on the lookout for new people or professionals to hire. It's easy for anyone to follow anyone who you want to add to your professional network. Just post thoughtful comments on their posts, and you can get on their radar in a reasonable amount of time.

--Visnja Zeljeznjak, Logit internet services

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#visnja

To build a lasting network, you should stop expecting anything from others and think that people owe you something. Focus on networking to give, not to take. When approaching new contacts, put yourself in their shoes and ask, What will this person get out of having me as a contact?. Think about the value you are providing to others and how they will benefit from networking with you.

Networking is not about quantity. It is not about the number of contacts in your address book, Instagram followers, or LinkedIn connections.

When you start networking, avoid talking about yourself. Instead, talk about the person you are trying to connect with. Ask them about their hobbies, family, job, and how they got where they are now.

Spend 80% of time listening and 19% of the time talking about them. They will feel appreciated and will be interested in continuing to talk to you.

Before going out there and starting to network with new contacts, reconnect with your existing contacts. You already have relationships with them, and they can help you meet new contacts, spread a word about your business, and grow your network.

--Thierry Tremblay, Kohezion

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#thierry

Make your trustworthiness stand out. It would be more difficult for people to try and establish a personal and professional engagement with you if they cannot trust you. From your end, try to be your most authentic self. Never make something up, whether its to beef up your credentials or withhold some information.

--Ben Walker, Transcription Outsourcing

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#ben

Reciprocity is one of the key factors. We keep a business card and contact list from everyone we meet, no matter what type of business they're in. I've been in client meetings, in reference to their website, and during the course of the conversation I was able to recommend businesses anywhere from bookkeepers to handymen. When other businesses see that I'm referring clients and other people back to them, they are more willing to remember us when the subject of websites or marketing come up in a conversation with their clients. All the clients we currently serve have been from referrals. Some of the referrals are 2 generations removed from the person I've actually met. When we share the talents of others with our clients, we are looked upon as more valuable and as a greater asset in the growth of their company. There is no better feeling than that of helping others.

--Richard Blount, Four Winds Agency

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#richard

For people who are just starting their careers and are looking for networking tips, one useful strategy is to leverage LinkedIn by searching for people further along in similar careers and reaching out asking for insight. 9 out of 10 times, the answer will be yes. Bring lots of questions to ask the person. Bonus points: Follow up a couple weeks later thanking them for taking the time to chat with you.

--Jamie Hejna, Ollie

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#jamie

Too many people approach networking with the mindset of What can I get out of this relationship? The issue with that mindset is not only is it abundantly obvious to others, but it's a terrible start to any professional or personal relationship. Networking is definitely not dating, but imagine on your first date if your date told you they were only interested in what they could get out of it -- you'd run as fast as you could.

My first piece of advice for any person looking to network is to have the courage to approach people who you believe may be too busy for you. You'd be surprised how many people are willing to share their story, background, or insights when you approach them with a genuine interest in gaining knowledge vs. expecting or trying to get a job, access to a person, simply trying to make a sale, or anything transactional in nature.

Second, utilize and leverage your current network to gain access to others. I cannot tell you how much credibility and trust you gain from others when you're able to drop a name or reference to someone they already know. You should always make sure that person is comfortable with you mentioning them, or they may even be willing to introduce the both of you.

Third, reciprocate any professional relationship. Remember that relationships are ultimately a two way street, and look for opportunities to reciprocate the opportunities given to you.

--Kyle Boze

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#kyle

Spend time making your LinkedIn profile authoritative Many people like to dismiss the importance of working on their LinkedIn profile. A few key details here and there are enough, right? The thing is, that the work you put into your LinkedIn profile, you'll eventually get back tenfold.

When people look at your LinkedIn profile they'll be looking to see some proof that you're worth connecting with. Of course, worth here is subjective. Which is why it's important to paint a rich picture of who you are as a professional. The more information you can offer about yourself, the greater the chances you'll strike a chord with someone.

Personally speaking, the several hours I put into bulking up my LinkedIn has proven to be a proverbial gift that keeps giving. I've now been contacted more times than I can count by professionals and companies who discovered my freelance marketing and writing business from a simple LinkedIn search. In many cases, I have gone on to work with these contacts, and have established long term professional relationships with them.

--Monica Mizzi, monicamizzi.com

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#monica

As a child, my parents made me write a thank you note for a birthday gift from my grandparents before I went out to play. I wasn’t happy. That note stood between me and the game of kick ball going on outside. But that loving note was taped on the frig in my grandma's kitchen the next time I visited. She said she looked at it every day and it made her smile. I have carried this important skill into my professional life. First and foremost, writing a thank you note after an interview should be a given (carry it with you!). I’ve seen a number of really good candidates not invited back because they didn’t send a follow up email after the first round (thanking the panel). Don’t let this be you. Send an email to each person you interviewed with. It doesn’t have to be long – just one detail of the interview per person. And make sure you spell check it! After you get the job, you are new and meeting so many people. Someone sticks out by something they’ve said to you? Drop them a note thanking them for taking time to chat. Make it personal. These days, with so many emails coming across our desktops, it's nice to get a handwritten note in the mail. People will remember it! I have a stack of thick flat note cards I pull out every couple of months to write people notes – jotting down a memory, or something I recently saw them talk about on social media, or just to say hello. When I started my new company earlier this year, I hand wrote over 250 notes to friends, family, and past work mates. I received a number of congrats texts and emails; and picked up a number of clients and referrals thanks to those notes. Final thought – it isn’t what’s written in the note that matters experts say, it’s the fact you sent it.

--Michelle Young, Bee Young Communications

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#michelle

The best piece of advice I was given 20+ years ago, when I needed to move geographically far from my industry was out of sight means out of mind. This meant I needed to work harder at networking. Out of sight did not mean forgotten or thought poorly of, it just meant that as I lost opportunities to see my industry peers at networking events, or at the office, I needed to work harder to keep in touch.

I solved for this by keeping a networking tracker (simply on Excel) of previous bosses, clients, and friends that I wanted to keep a relationship with. I would spend 1 hour monthly reaching out via email, trying to connect for a virtual coffee or just catching up via email, and made sure each person was reached at least twice a year. If someone moved companies, I was strategic about Congratulating them in the moment, and making a note to reach out to them about 2 months later, just to check-in and see how they liked their new job.

When I was nearby on travel, I made every effort to book every hour starting at coffee before breakfast and ending at wine after dinner.

The results of this was very positive, the years that I freelanced, this resulted in a lot of business and the years I was looking for a job, I received two opportunities this way.

People may not always have the time, or inclination to reach out first, but I have found that if you have a solid relationship, they are more than willing to return the email and the call, especially when there is no objective beyond catching-up.

--Carrie Goldstein, Cheer Partners

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#carrie

My biggest tip, and where I found the most success, was joining our local Chamber of Commerce. You’ll often find like-minded individuals who share the same customer base as you. That allows for hundreds of possibilities for networking opportunities, cross-promotions, and business referrals have most certainly increased our local sales ten-fold. If that’s not enough, It’s also allowed me to be hired directly by other members of the Chamber of Commerce.

--Michael Thomas Ireland, SEOtographer

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#michael

Here is what I learned: You can't build a bond if you just keep it formal or talk to gain something. You have to be a giver to get better at networking. I have been in professional contact with people from the diverse background at various levels of the hierarchy, and one simple thing that has helped me in maintaining these contact is, 'share things which can help another person and also start a great conversation'. If I read a great book, I recommend the book, if I find a lifehack that is helping me, I share the experience with everybody. These help me starts a great conversation, and build an amazing pure bond with people. Remember, you can't build a permanent network if you just talk formally with an intention to gain something. This makes the network plastic, which doesn't last long.

--Ketan Pande, GoodVitae

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#ketan

My tip for networking better is to give special attention to those already in your network - send handwritten notes, check in frequently, and engage with their content on social media. It's much easier to build quality relationships with those you already have a relationship with than targeting completely new individuals and starting from scratch.

--Chelsie Tamms, Lettering Works

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#chelsie

If there are local business conferences and events in your city connected to your industry in any way, visit them, as face-to-face networking is still one of the best ways to network. You can also go to art exhibitions and cultural events, especially if there are people in attendance from your target audience. In-person social events are a good opportunity to find people who can become your loyal customers in the future. Whether they are free or have an entrance fee, take every chance to network in person, as it's a tried and trusted method of business networking that will bring your results.

If you are a real introvert, then social media is a better networking option for you. There are many choices as you can go with Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin - all of which can target your potential customers. Find out which of these platforms match your product or service, and start breathing life into your social media accounts. It takes time to expand your social network and it's a lengthy process, as you need to be consistent in your posting Thankfully there are many tools that you can use to help automate your social media activities, allowing you to dedicate time to more important tasks.

--Stefan Smulders, Expandi

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#stefan

My main tip seems like a no brainer, but there is quite a bit more to it: listen more.

I learned the hard way that when building a professional network, sometimes the counterintuitive is the right decision. When in group conversations with important people in my area, I always felt that people would like me more if I spoke more. But experience showed a better approach.

Indeed people like us when we talk, but they like us a thousand times more if we listen to what they have to say. By our human nature, we like being heard and understood; it makes us feel good.

After starting to let people talk and genuinely appreciate what they were saying, everything changed. People began to like me more as they related to positive memories when they were interacting with me.

Talk less, show how interested you are to what people are saying, ask questions, make eye contact, and you will be halfway to win their hearts and minds.

--Francisco Falcon, OK Tuner

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#francisco

1. Connect with people you already know. It sounds simple but be sure you're connected on LinkedIn with your college buddies, your parent's neighbors, your high school friends and your relatives. By doing that, you automatically expand your network.

2. Build relationships not contacts. Anybody can have thousands of contacts. You need people who will refer business to you, speak on your behalf as a reference or serve as a trusted counselor. It starts and continues with conversations. A quick hello, how are you periodically will go a long way. Comment on their posts, drop a note, send an email or text. Let them know you are important to them. Send them job opportunities that you may think are suited for them EVEN if they aren't looking for a job. It shows you care and you know them.

3. Pick up the phone. Hearing someone's voice makes things more personal. If you wouldn't pick up the phone to speak with them, chances are you're not going to ask them for any advice or favors.

4. GIVE. GIVE. GIVE. Be the one that offers connections and introductions. Ask how you can help. Do this before you ask for help for yourself. Be the conduit that people go to when they are looking for a job or need advice.

5. Share your goals. You may be in an entry level job now, but share what your dream/goal job is for your future. They will remember it and keep you in mind when when an opportunity arises.

--Holly Wolf, berkshireadvisors.net

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#holly

I have gotten my last two corporate jobs through networking contacts and I get a large amount of my coaching clients from referrals from people in my network. I currently have more than 8000 connections on Linkedin.

Here are a few tips for effective networking:

- Recognize that everyone you meet is a potentially valuable networking contact. This includes people you went to elementary school with, your next-door neighbor, your friend's parents, as well as the person sitting next to you at work right now. We often tend to think of valuable networking contacts as people who can do something for us right this moment, and we don't take time to build relationships with people who could benefit us in unknown or unseen ways in the future. My advice for overcoming this hurdle is to get connected with everyone -- once your close colleague has left to take another job and you've lost contact, it's too late -- yet they may help you get your next job or serve as a reference for you if you stay in touch. Get LinkedIn now!

- I used to get really nervous about networking because I thought it meant walking into a room full of strangers and working the room and handing out lots of business cards. That's the least effective way to network. Building meaningful relationships with people is the best way to network.

- Networking is a reciprocal activity, meaning that if you are asking for value from someone -- whether it be an introduction or insights on their industry or a reference -- you must be willing to provide reciprocal value either now or at a point in the future. The worst type of networker is the one that expects others to help in their time of need, but isn't willing to pick up the phone when someone else has a need. Remember that karma has a way of coming back to bite you, so if you've been helped, pay it forward.

- When you're networking, be yourself. I've seen a lot of younger people feel like they have to demonstrate the same level of knowledge and expertise as someone with 20+ years of experience. If you're early in your career or new to an industry, realize that those veterans know that you aren't as knowledgable as they are. They were once neophytes also, so don't try to fake it -- just ask the questions you want to ask and don't feel self-conscious about it.

- However, if you are asking for the time of a busy executive, be very considerate and realize how valuable the time is. Be on time. Wrap up your meeting within the time that's been allocated. Follow up with a thank you note and keep them apprised of your progress. If they introduce you to someone, reach out to that person. There's nothing worse than a busy person taking the time to make and introduction and expending their hard-won professional capital then having someone not take advantage of the opportunity. It's really disrespectful and will reduce their likelihood of wanting to help you in the future.

--Terry McDougall, terrybmcdougall.com

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#terry

The best way to go about networking if you are just starting your career is to do a Google search of all the job fairs that are taking place in your area. Be sure to have an updated copy of your resume or print out business cards with your name, contact information, and a couple of the skillsets you are trying to market yourself for. You can also build a professional network by joining professional associations. For example, if you are a Hospitality professional in Florida, you may want to consider joining the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) or if you are a Public Relations professional, you will want to join Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). These organizations can help to expand your professional network and provide you with career opportunities you may not find online.

Finally, the easiest way to grow your professional network is to utilize resources such as LinkedIn. Creating a professional profile on LinkedIn can help you meet and network with people all over the world who are looking for mentors, interns, or new hires.

To be the most successful in building your professional network, you will want to do all three of the above mentioned.

--Rhea Cassimire, Tandem Interactive

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#rhea

When networking, oftentimes the inevitable question of What do you do? is going to come up in the conversation. Answering that you are an Executive Coach, for example, does not represent what you really do. To help me craft an answer to those business opportunities, I created the FXA Personal Branding Snippets(tm) formula. The F stands for Fundamental, the X stands for 'eXtended and the A stands for Advanced.

Let us continue with the Executive Coach example. A Fundamental Snippet(tm) would be to simply state what you do. This is not the best approach if you know the conversation is going to go further. You would use this if the chances are you will never see that person again, so you simply state what you do.

An eXtended Snippet(tm) would be to generally elaborate on what it is you do. This is great to use to move the conversation further along and have others ask more questions so that you can showcase your work. An eXtended Snippet(tm) might be, I teach people how to dress and act in business.

An Advanced Snippet(tm) would be used if you are speaking with someone that you might be able to help them with what you do. For example, if you were speaking to a sales trainer, an Advanced Snippet(tm) might be, I help salespeople learn how to enhance their visibility, image, and performance in the marketplace to build a personal brand that promotes career advancement.

--Parker Geiger, Personal Branding Center

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#parker

1. Before going to a networking event, know what your ultimate goal is. It is easy to get lost in a lot of different conversations and agendas, so understanding your reason for attending the event will help you get the best out of it.

2. If you want to work with someone, follow up ASAP. There are plenty of studies out there that proves people have the attention span of a goldfish. So you need to keep your name in the picture as often as possible. This is one of the reasons you need a business card - it is a reminder that this person met you. A smart networker will take notes on the back of the card, too.

3. Don't be afraid to do some free work. If you are just starting out, this is a good way to obtain experience for your resume and samples for your portfolio. Don't make this a long-term deal though - do one or two projects for free, then ask them to start paying you. This is the true test to see if they value your time.

4. Spend time outside of work with them. Networking is more than just collecting potential work buddies. If you want to work with this person, you will most likely spend a lot of time with them. Get to know who they are outside of the work environment. People like talking about themselves.

--Walter Wertz, JungleTopp Media

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#walker

My greatest tip by far is to DOCUMENT your network. So few people do this early in their careers and end up missing out on huge potential.

If you can build a simple habit of keeping a few notes on every person you meet (what they do for a job, their spouse/kid's names, how you met them, their interests), you will accumulate a database that is literally priceless.

Then, if you really want to develop an incredible network, make a habit of staying in touch with the ones you find interesting or could be helpful to you in the future in a very lightweight way, 2-4 times per year. Send them a note with an article they would be interested in. Just send them a text that you thought of them and ask how they are doing. Nothing crazy.

If you get those two things right you will be miles ahead of your peers and your network will open doors you can't even imagine today.

--Adrian Chenault, Contact Mapping

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#adrian

1. Understand What Networking Is and What it is Not

The best networkers are not about what is in it for them but about giving back to also help other people. Consider it Net-GIVING not net-working. What value can and will you offer someone else. Understanding that from a young age helps people cultivate meaningful relationships personally and professionally.

2. Start Today

There is a Chinese Proverb that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago and that the second best time is now. It is never to young to start! And build relationships before you actually need them.

3. Use Youth to your Advantage

Seasoned professionals love to help and mentor younger people. It makes them feel good to share and it is empowering to help others. It is also flattering to be asked.

4. Ask People their Opinions & About Themselves

Most people love to talk about themselves. Overcome feeling shy or unsure what to say when meeting someone by asking appropriate questions. If it's an event, ask how they heard about the event which can then lead into other topics. Ask for opinions about the speaker, event, or something else.

5. Follow Up

A key to networking is the follow up. It is not about how many new business cards or contacts were made. Follow up and cultivate the relationships. Spend the time and send thoughtful follow up notes. Personalize each note to create a genuine connect and make yourself stand out. Suggest meeting for coffee (socially distance rules applying!) or ask for a brief follow up call or for any suggestions or recommendations they have.

6. Use Good Manners

Be a polite listener, don't interrupt and listen more than you speak. Maintain eye contact during a conversation and do not look at your phone. Check emails and texts later when you are not in conversation. And if food is involved, do not talk with food in your mouth. Good manners such as saying thank you, holding a door for someone and being gracious help create a positive impression.

--Lauren Cohen, positivecoachingnow.com

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#lauren

Working with and creating community-driven content is a great way to meet and collaborate with other business professionals. This can typically come in the way of writing roundup posts or collecting survey information from other companies, so that you can provide informative articles for the readers who visit your site.

In turn, you can also participate in providing answers to surveys and quotes for roundup articles. You'll quickly begin to recognize some of the same companies who regularly participate, and you can easily begin to add more new names to your contact list.

--Alexandra Zamolo, Beekeeper

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#alexandra

When it comes to networking, either in-person or online, you might think that quantity trumps quality. That couldn't be further from the truth in either scenario. For in-person events, thinking that handing out 100 business cards represents success is a fool's errand. You're better off handing out five and establishing five real connections with meaningful conversations. If you're talking about online networking, if you make your goal to establish 100 new LinkedIn connection per month without any other parameters, that strategy isn't going to end very well either. The point is that you need to focus on the quality of your connections rather than the quantity. The quantity strategy went out the window several years ago. Target who you want to meet (either online or in-person), make the connections real by being personable and offering something in return if there is an ask involved and follow up appropriately. Times have changed in the networking niche, and you need to as well. The one size fits all strategy just doesn't cut it these days.

--David Bakke, National Air Warehouse

PERMALINK: https://outwittrade.com/networking-tips#davidb

Respond to others’ challenges. There is no better way to establish a business networking relationship than to contribute to the solution of your new contact’s critical problem. When someone states a challenge that they’re facing, I always ensure to respond no later than the next morning with something that addresses their issue. Then I make sure to forge the connection by following up on the outcome of the issue. You should always bear in mind that in networking, 10% is showing up and 90% is following up. Timing is crucial, so don’t wait for more than 24 hours to follow up with a new contact.

--Israel Gaudette, Tracker Pro Founder

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Follow up with the people you're trying to connect with, really soon after you meet them.

I spent the first year after finishing my Journalism degree going to networking events and contacting people online to build relationships, and I felt great about myself - but soon I realised that the conversation was a one-off. I would email them a few weeks later but the momentum had dwindled and I would rarely hear back.

It seems obvious now but the best thing I ever did was reach out to someone the day after I met them.

I thanked them for their advice, bought up a conversation topic, and asked them a question about the industry. It was simple but effective. I started building long-lasting connections because I took responsibility.

--Rhiannon Moore, Evopure

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One of the best networking tips I can offer is to have fun with it! Yes, networking is a crucial aspect of building a career, and you need to take it seriously. But it can also be an enjoyable process, and having a good time doing it can actually make you a better networker. Building a network isn’t just asking everyone you meet for a job; it’s about building connections and establishing rapport with others in your field. Take time to get to know people and learn more about them and their businesses. You’ll learn a lot, and people will be more likely to refer you for a job in the future if you’ve made an impression by taking a genuine interest in them. Enjoy the networking process, and you’ll be surprised by how many opportunities become available.

--Jenna Shaffer, Sugatsune America

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My biggest piece of advice for others trying to up their networking game is to request referrals, reviews, and feedback from satisfied clients. I think a lot of beginners are hesitant to do this. I know I was afraid that I would come off as pushy or arrogant if I asked for anything other than my pay after a job was finished.

But the best, most reliable, and longest lasting projects I’ve gotten have been through word-of-mouth referrals and positive reviews that I could show potential clients. I’ve also found that most contractors that are happy with my work are also enthusiastic about recommending me to other clients or providing me with a written review I can show to future business partners and employers.

--Kendra Bruning, GameCows

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