When considering networking, don’t limit your thinking to the formality of a conference or event. More often, networking happens during unpredictable situations. At times, meeting someone may seem like an uncanny coincidence. Because of this, it is important to be prepared at all times. Don’t forget to carry your business card wherever you go, in case an opportunity comes your way.
Here are some tips to help you build your network to your advantage:
Put yourself out there. Think outside the box by engaging people,and discover more opportunities. Keep in mind that jobs don’t come to you. Instead, you come knocking. Be open to social events and meeting new people. If you want to build your career seriously, talk to people.
Listen. When you’re in a conversation, listen actively to what the other person is saying. Even if the conversation doesn’t lead to a job-related opportunity, listen, and ask questions, if you can.Focus on the person rather than checking your mobile phone or letting your eyes wander. Listening actively gives a positive impression.The person is more likely to remember how engaging you are.
Reach out. After meeting a new contact, you can reach out by sending a short message. Express how happy you were to meetthat person, or share a memorable snippet of the conversation you had and start from there. (It doesn’t have to be job-related.)
Do your part. Now that you’ve sent the person a quick message, be sure to reply when you get a response. Replying to your new contact’s email will help maintain a positive impression.
Communicate. There’s nothing wrong with not having communication for a week or so. However, it is best to make contact at least every six months to check in. In the event someone does help you out, return the favor by asking how you can be of help.
Meeting someone unexpectedly is a chance for you to build your network. Though he or she may be a stranger, it can be the beginning of a relationship. Be sure to stay in touch and maintain the connection — you may even find a new friend. And that meeting might pay off once you’ve landed in the job you’ve always dreamed of.