As we already discussed, being able to connect with people is a skill that can make your life a lot easier. With social media creating such easy access for everyone, using professional networking as an active way to improve your career is more important than ever before.

By educating yourself about other professionals in your area, you’ll be developing new skills while also enhancing their image. You may even find that someone you meet has connections they are looking to add to their team or that they know of job opportunities available within their field.

With technology making it possible to create our own personal networks almost at lightning speed, there is no reason not to take full advantage. In this article, we will go over some ways to use professional networking to help you achieve your goals.

Heck, even if you don’t want to work somewhere directly yet, meeting people and exchanging business info is always worth its weight in gold. A good source of information includes talking to others in your profession, checking out their LinkedIn profiles, and reading reviews about them.

Build relationships

How to Leverage Professional Networking to Your Benefit

Social media has made it easy to connect with people, but don’t use social media as an excuse not to build real-life connections!

As we know, making friends is hard. It takes time and energy to develop meaningful friendships. Plus, some may not feel like they have anyone in their life that they can talk to about things so creating your own internal friend might be more productive than seeking out external ones.

But aside from all of those reasons, I’d like to add one more: social media makes it too easy to create fake friendships.

I see it every day as I travel around the world – staying in nice hotels, eating delicious food, and meeting new people at every meal and activity. My colleagues and I would even make calls or meet for drinks after work to get more business.

It wasn’t always like this. Back when I first started traveling, I wouldn’t hesitate to stay in less expensive accommodations, eat street snacks, and sometimes go without sleep because there was nothing else available.

By investing in other travelers, you will earn rewards beyond just pleasant experiences. You could find new opportunities, gain new knowledge, and maybe make a few connections that last a lifetime.

Doesn’s it sound crazy? I know. And trust me, I’ve been through my share of difficult situations while traveling.

Know your audience

As we mentioned before, one of the best ways to use professional networking as an effective tool is by knowing who you are talking to and what their goals are. What messages do they want to convey?

By asking questions that relate to them, you will learn more about their field and what areas they feel passionate about. This gives you both ideas for conversations and insights into how they handle themselves in similar situations.

Your conversation may even lead to meeting someone new!

That person could become a valuable connection or mentor who can help you achieve your career dreams. An easy way to create connections is to be active on social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

You can also take some time to look up professionals in your area and see if there are any events or announcements related to things they’re involved in. If there are, it would be smart to attend or at least watch the event with headphones so you don’t have to talk too much.

Create a plan

How to Leverage Professional Networking to Your Benefit

One of the biggest reasons people get discouraged about networking is that they try doing it without any planning or structure. It’s easy to start chatting to someone at a event, but then you have no idea what to say next!

By having a plan, however, you take control of your conversation. You know what you want to talk about, and you’re not distracted by other things.

Your conversations will more likely be longer and deeper if you are prepared with a topic, and if you keep an eye on what the other person is saying – which can sometimes be the hardest part!

Having a goal for each meeting is another way to make sure your chat stays focused. If you had a half-hour lunch together, maybe you both shared some tips on how to increase productivity at work. Or perhaps you discovered something new you wanted to learn more about.

Good networking doesn’t just happen overnight, so don’t give up when you feel like you’ve run out of ideas. Take time to prepare and research ahead of meetings, and you’ll reap the benefits in terms of connections and opportunities.

Come prepared

How to Leverage Professional Networking to Your Benefit

As we mentioned before, being present and engaging is your best bet for networking. But you should be ready with your preparation when you arrive at an event!

Before attending any event, do some research and read up on the organizers’s achievements and what they want to achieve for their organization. This gives you a better understanding of who these people are and what they hope to gain from this meeting.

By doing this, you will also understand how this person is connected to others in the field, which can help you connect with them later.

Furthermore, it helps determine if this individual is worth investing time into or not. If you find that they don’t seem very active in their field, then maybe there’s another one you could meet instead.

And finally, dress according to the season and budget for the event, and bring enough materials to make yourself look good!

Blog post: Why Is It So Hard For People To Make New Friends?

It can be difficult to make new friends as life gets busy. You work, spend time with family, run errands, and keep commitments you have already given.

Making time to go out and meet people is definitely a skill that most people don’t possess.

Focus on their interests

How to Leverage Professional Networking to Your Benefit

One of the best ways to connect with people is by looking for commonalities between them and you. If someone talks about their favorite movie genre, get some tips on that film or book!
If they mention an app they use frequently, ask if anyone else in your circle uses it and see what works for them.

Their hobbies can also be great talking points – maybe there’s a sports team they are passionate about or a charity they support.

By being aware of these things, you will know how to talk about these topics and contribute to the conversation.

Interpersonal skills don’t just happen naturally, but like anything worthwhile, they’re learned through practice. So, when you find yourself at a party without any kind of agenda, try using one of our tactic as a basis and see what happens.

Seek feedback

How to Leverage Professional Networking to Your Benefit

As we know, your career will be influenced by those around you. People who work with you in an office or at another organization may feel compelled to recommend you or speak well of you. If they don’t like what they see, however, it can hurt your reputation even if they never say so directly.

As a professional, you should actively seek out such comments. You can ask direct questions or make indirect inquiries to find out what people think about you and your performance, but make sure that you take all the responses with a grain of salt. (You would probably do the same for someone else’s reviews.)

If you’re looking to get more honest opinions, you can also hold informal “office tours” where colleagues are asked to drop by each other’s desks for a few minutes. Some professionals offer their own advice on how to improve one’s job performance under these circumstances, and this can help you gain valuable insights.

Be honest

How to Leverage Professional Networking to Your Benefit

As mentioned before, your career will depend on how well you connect with others. So, being honest is key when engaging in professional networking. You must be clear about what you are looking for and who can help you achieve your goals.

If you over-market yourself, people may feel overwhelmed. If you understate your needs, you may miss out on important opportunities.

In addition to not finding appropriate help, you could lose trust in those potential connections. By being upfront and sincere, there won’t be too many surprises.

But don’t forget that relationships take work! And even if you make a connection that doesn’t lead to anything, you still contributed by being authentic and self-aware.

Create a profile

How to Leverage Professional Networking to Your Benefit

First, you will need to create a professional profile or connect to LinkedIn using their website. With your new profile, you can choose to update about yourself, include skills, and even upload an impressive photo.

Once everything is ready, you can begin looking for opportunities through connecting with other professionals!

By interacting with others via linking and posting comments, you will eventually be contacted by potential employers or partners. This is very common in business, so do not worry about “losing” contacts if this happens!

Using LinkedIn as a way to find employment is a great strategy that has worked for many.


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