17 networking tips for business professionals

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Networking is a vital skill for any business professional. No matter what industry you’re in, chances are that you’ll need to network at some point in your career. Whether you’re looking for a new job, trying to meet potential customers, or simply wanting to expand your professional circle, networking can help you achieve your goals. 

That being said, networking can be a tricky thing – where do you go, how do you do it, is there a better way to initiate it, what are the best practices… ?

To help steer you in the right direction, we’ve laid out a few of our favorite networking tips, do’s and don’ts, and best practices.

Networking Tips: How To Get Started

Get involved in industry associations and attend events.

If you want to meet other professionals in your industry, one of the best things you can do is get involved in an industry association. These organizations often hold events where members can network with one another. Attending these events is a great way to meet new people and learn more about what’s going on in your industry. Plus, it shows that you’re invested in advancing your career—something that will definitely impress potential clients and customers.

Connect with people online.

Just because you’re not meeting people face-to-face doesn’t mean you can’t connect with them online. There are tons of networking opportunities available online, so take advantage of them! Join relevant online communities and participate in discussions. You can also follow industry leaders and influencers on social media. By engaging with others online, you’ll be able to build relationships with people from all over the world—relationships that could benefit your business in a big way.

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Volunteer your time.

Another great way to meet new people and grow your network is by volunteering your time. There are many organizations that could use your help, so find one that aligns with your interests and skills. Not only will you be making a difference in the world, but you’ll also have the chance to meet like-minded individuals who could become valuable contacts for your business down the line.

Network Tips: Do’s and Don’ts

To help you make the most of your next networking event, we’ve put together a list of simple do’s and don’ts. By following this list, you’ll be more than capable of making a good impression and building lasting relationships.

Networking Do’s

  • Find out who will be attending the event and research them in advance. This way, you’ll know whom you want to talk to and you’ll have something to chat about when you meet them. 
  • Dress appropriately for the event. First impressions are important, so it’s important to look put-together and professional. 
  • Bring plenty of business cards with you and make sure they’re up-to-date. You never know when you might meet someone who wants to stay in touch. 
  • Smile and make eye contact. This will help put people at ease and make them more likely to approach you. 
  • Be an active listener. When talking to someone, really listen to what they’re saying instead of just waiting for your turn to speak. People will appreciate it if you remember things about them later on. 
  • Follow up with people after the event. Send them an email or LinkedIn message thanking them for their time and letting them know that you enjoyed meeting them. 

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Networking Don’ts

  • Don’t arrive late. Arriving late sends the signal that you don’t respect other people’s time—not a good first impression! 
  • Don’t forget people’s names! This is an easy way to make someone feel unimportant. If you can’t remember someone’s name, politely ask them for a business card so you can follow up with them later on. 
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol! It’s okay to have one drink if it loosens you up a bit, but don’t overdo it—you don’t want to end up embarrassing yourself or saying something you shouldn’t!  

Networking Tips: Best Practices

Do Your Research

Before heading to a networking event, it’s important to do your research. Find out as much as you can about the event, including who will be in attendance and what the dress code is. This will help you avoid any awkwardness or surprises on the day of the event. Additionally, research the individuals who will be attending the event. Connect with them on social media and read their bios so you can strike up a conversation more easily.

Don’t be afraid to be yourself. 

One of the best things about being introverted is that you’re not afraid to be yourself. You’re not trying to put on a show or to be someone you’re not. This authenticity will shine through when you’re networking and make you more relatable and likable.

Bring a friend. 

If the idea of going to a networking event alone is too much for you to handle, then bring a friend! Having a buddy by your side will help you feel more comfortable and will give you someone to fall back on if the conversation lulls. Just make sure that your friend is also interested in networking and won’t monopolize the conversation.

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Listen more than you talk. 

People love talking about themselves, so use this to your advantage! Instead of awkwardly forcing conversation, let others do most of the talking and simply listen intently. Not only will this make others feel good, but it will also give you valuable information that you can use in future interactions. People will also remember you as being a great listener, which is always a valuable quality in business.

Quality over quantity. 

It’s better to have a few strong connections than tons of superficial ones. When meeting someone new, take the time to get to know them on a deeper level and exchange contact information so that you can keep in touch. These deeper relationships will be more beneficial in the long run than simply amassing a huge network of people who you never see or hear from again.

 

Building a strong network is essential for any business professional who wants to succeed. If you’re having trouble putting yourself out there, don’t worry—there are plenty of easy ways to make meaningful connections. Use the tips we’ve outlined above to start growing your network today—you’ll be glad you did!

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