“The fundamental element that defines the quality of your life is the people you surround yourself with and the conversations you have with them.” – Jon Levi
Many people believe that networking only needs to be utilized when you are looking for a job, but that’s the wrong idea!
Networking is making contacts, creating and maintaining relationships, finding out about opportunities, and making friends. It is an ongoing process, it requires persistence, attention, organisation and good will. Networking is a two-way street, it is a way of getting to know someone better and finding ways they might be able to help you and how you can help them in return.
Here are my top tips for making the most of networking;
Have a goal
Before you go to a networking event, ask yourself what you want to achieve from this event. For example, meeting two new people, getting a job lead or just making a new friend. Knowing what you want to accomplish beforehand can help you stay focused.
Make a memorable introduction
When meeting someone for the first time it is important to smile and keep eye contact. After you have introduced yourself, make sure you listen carefully to the other person when they introduce themselves.
Dress to impress
You want to dress professionally for networking events. Your dress is part of the first impression you give.
Listen first, then speak
Let the other person speak first. Ask questions that are simple and open-ended and that will help relax the person.
Take business cards
This is important. You want to give your contact details to someone in a professional manner when they ask them, and not on a piece of paper. If you don’t have a card, then design one using Microsoft Word or Canva.
Be genuine and share personal stories
Do not try to be someone you are not. Sharing personal stories and experiences make more for interesting and memorable conversation, which is exactly what you want – for the other person to remember you!
Don’t just network with the people you like and people like you
Get out of your comfort zone and meet people from diverse backgrounds. You will not only make friends but gain knowledge of different disciplines.
Follow up afterwards
So, you’ve made contacts in a networking event now comes the hard part. As I said networking requires persistence and hard work so a few days later send personalised emails to the contacts you want to stay in touch with. Let them know you enjoyed meeting them and mention something you talked about.
LinkedIn has become a very powerful social networking site for professionals. Connect with people you meet at networking events. Your LinkedIn profile is your business card and your online résumé! Once you have connected, make a note on their profile which is only visible to you, and write down where and when you met, and what you talked about.
Keep in touch with fellow students and alumni
Remember today’s university friends and classmates are all going to be in the workforce tomorrow, so it is important to maintain a good relationship with them.
Written by Fauzan Ahmed Tariq, a former GLP Student Representative and currently pursuing a Bachelor in Applied Finance. He is a Macquarie Careers and Employment Service Representative and Secretary of the University Network for Investing and Trading, a finance society on campus. He is interested in a career in Investment Banking.
Put your networking skills into practice at the GLP Innovative Leaders Series next week, Friday 28 April. Find out more.