Letter writing, travel by train and sea, weeks if not months on end to receive a written response in the mail, Morse code, the Pony Express. Making business deals, conference calls and custom made professional profiles can all be done within a click of time.
Let's face it, today networking and staying connected is inevitable if you are able to cultivate the art and develop the necessary skills to keep your contacts close and updated. Take everything with an open mind, a positive attitude and a listening ear. Learn about the art of networking and apply it with the following guidelines:
Showing interest and asking questions to get to know the other person is key to building the relationship. A very positive environment is established when you first allow other people to talk about their achievements and their passions. The excitement about getting to know you stems from allowing other people to talk about what they do. This way, you can compare ideas, share aspirations and relate on similar topics.
It's Not All About You
The art of networking is not to pursue only self interests. Both parties benefit from the relationship. It's all about giving back.
Know Your Craft
Study up on your sector and what you really like to get involved in. Knowing about what you are talking about and having the right ideas to propose are so important to addressing specific aspects in a conversation.
Keep those ears wide open when people are telling you about themselves. No one likes to repeat what they have just said. A good listener can then ask good questions. Don't concentrate on when it will be your turn to speak, that will come. There is a difference between listening and noise.
The First E-mail
You started writing emails to your college admissions directors in high school and then made it a point to meet them face to face when you did the campus tour. If you can relate, you have already dominated from day one on the importance of one simple email.
When you start out with an email, the person you want to maintain within your realm of contacts will remember you when you get the chance to formally meet them in person. Do not forget to check over what you write twice. Any type of grammar mistakes or misspelled names will show that you are careless.
It's Not All About Technology
Social media, your own personal blog and an account on LinkedIn are all very important tools to expand your network and maintain important contacts, but meeting someone in person is even better. Setting up a date for coffee, going to conferences and making short trips are all ways to connect in person.
If you find yourself an opportunity to catch up with someone you should let them know in advance that you will be in town to meet and personally get to know them.
After you meet someone and exchange contact details, make sure you follow up with a simple email expressing your enthusiasm about how you enjoyed meeting them and would love to reconnect in the near future.
Don't walk around town with flip-flops and pajamas. Style, elegance and class always come across as very professional characteristics. First impressions are crucial, no matter how lightly you may want to take them. Freshen up, dress well and keep your business cards close, today, you may bump into an important contact on the street.
Sophie Winckel | Elite.