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  • 5 Easy Steps for Networking Like a Pro

    Networking can be a vital way to build contacts and grow your clientele. No matter what you’re looking to do with your personal brand, growing and nurturing your network will help you get there.

    To network like a pro, I’ve broken down the vague task of “networking” into five easily executable steps:

    Networking steps

    Step One: Get in the right mindset

    I always remind job seekers to “network before you need it.” Even if you aren’t searching for a job, never leave networking until you “need it.” Networking is a process. You’re looking to create a mutually beneficial relationship between yourself and this other person – and that doesn’t happen overnight. Keep in mind that you will need to network over time, but keep in contact with those who are already in your network throughout this period.

    Step Two: Sharpen your skill set

    Think of networking as a gateway. Building and maintaining a network can open the door to huge opportunities for you in your job search and career. In order to reach out to new and interesting people, you need to have an elevator pitch ready.

    An elevator pitch is a quick, 60- to 90-second summary of who you are, what you do and what you’re looking for. If you’re contacting someone for the first time, your elevator pitch should also end in a call to action – what are you looking to get out of e-mailing/calling this person? Would you like to take them to coffee? (Make the call to action about something you can do for them, not something they can do for you. That comes later once you’ve built the relationship.)

    Step Three: Provide value

    Networking is about building a mutually beneficial relationship, but when reaching out to new people, you need to provide them with some type of value. Always offer your expertise first, before asking them for something in return. Think about how you can help them succeed, so they will want to help you succeed in the future. Networking is all about creating good karma!

    Step Four: Follow-up

    Keeping in contact with your new connections is important to building a relationship. Just like you would follow-up to stay at the front of a hiring manager’s mind during a job search, you should follow-up with your contacts to remind them of the value the relationship holds.

    Step Five: Leverage your connections

    The beginning of networking is finding a common ground before asking for help. When done properly, networking can lead to pretty much anything. It’s up to you to build a relationship with these contacts, provide them with value and see if they can (or will) help you.

    What else would you add?

    Author:

    Heather R. Huhman is a career expert and founder & president of Come Recommended, a career and workplace education and consulting firm specializing in young professionals. She is also the author of #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), national entry-level careers columnist for Examiner.com and blogs about career advice at HeatherHuhman.com. Follow her on Twitter at @heatherhuhman.

    avatar

    Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.

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    4 comments on “5 Easy Steps for Networking Like a Pro
    1. avatar
      EXPERT
      Scott Asai says:

      Can’t emphasize how important it is to follow up. There really is no point in meeting someone if one of you isn’t planning on following up. Don’t leave it to chance, make sure you contact the person first. Business is about relationships. You either have them or you don’t.

    2. avatar
      EXPERT

      Great post. With all the social tools and technology that’s out there the same principles of netweaving and paying it forward are still very much in play.

      Check out Bob Litell’s book “Netweaving”, it’s a classic.

    3. avatar
      EXPERT
      Yinka olaito says:

      inability to follow up is the great undoing of many pro networkers. thanks for raising this point

    4. avatar
      EXPERT

      These are great points to remember when networking. Too many people go in with no strategy at all—and then wonder why they see no results. Thanks for the refresher course.

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