Networking goes hand in hand with running a successful business, building a successful career and creating a support group in all aspects of life. Your network will also get you in doors that your degree won't. It may even introduce you to people who start to support you more than your friends & family (shoutout to those who are supportive friends and family though).
Ever wonder how someone people are so powerfully connected, hear about amazing opportunities, have solid friendships and constantly get referrals? You don't have to attend every networking event you see to get there, you just need to network more intentionally. Meaning having a clear focus of how you bring others value + what value you are looking for others to bring you, this helps you pinpoint ideal connections and build powerful, mutually beneficial relationships.
Here are five ways to become more intentional with your networking experiences.
Set a goal for what you want to get out of each networking event
Before attending an event, set a clear goal on what you hope to get out of it. This allows you be more intentional about the questions you ask and the people you approach.
Networking Goal Examples:
Schedule a coffee meetup with 2 people
Set up a consultation with 1 person
Find someone that specializes in a complimentary industry to form a mutually beneficial partnership
Get clear on the type of connections that align with your goals
Looking for a mentor?
Looking for potential customers?
Looking for new partnerships?
Looking for connections in your industry?
Recruiting for a position?
Ask questions and be curious
Be one of the rare people who asks questions more than they talk about themselves - people will naturally find you interesting, because you're interested in them!
Generally, people enjoy talking about themselves and this gives you an opportunity to learn about them and form a connection.
What professional associations or organizations are you a member of?
Did you always want to work in this field?
What advice would you have liked to have heard when you were starting out doing ____?
If you could do things all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself?
Take notes after each event
Take 5-10 minutes to write down the name, contact information + any important conversation points of those you want to stay connected with.
Remembering important conversation points helps build rapport when you reach out in the future and can refer back on past conversations - it shows you were paying attention.
Follow up with connections soon after the event
It's important to follow up with you new connections within 24 hours after the event while the conversations are still fresh in everyone's mind. Depending on what contact information you have, this could be done through LinkedIn, email, or potentially other social media platforms.
This may consist of a simple thanks for a great conversation, sharing a relevant piece of content or an intro to someone who may benefit them.