If you want to advance your career during 2014, then read these essential networking tips. Knowing how to network is absolutely vital when it comes to getting ahead and making sure you’re doing the best you can. It’s not just about talking to the boss – it’s about knowing how to speak to everyone, and how to further your career. Check out these essential networking tips, and you’ll be on the right track in no time.
One of the most essential networking tips is also one of the easiest to forget. Most office events aren’t actually about having fun. They aren’t about letting loose and relaxing, or burning off steam, unless you want to be the talk of the office tomorrow. They’re about spending time with the people you don’t work with all of the time, in order to forge relationships and connect. That means you should take care of yourself, and make sure you are ready to show yourself in a good light. Oh, and think working relationships – you shouldn’t be sharing a bed with anyone from your office!
Don’t go into events blind. Know who you want to speak to, and find opportunities to talk to them. If there are people that you’ve been trying to talk to but have struggled to find time for, reach out to them and suggest meeting up for a drink before, or just let them know that you’ll be at the party and up for chatting. This will prime them to talk to you, and encourage you to seek them out. If you want to meet new people but don’t have specific targets in mind, pay attention to who seems to attract groups.
It’s super tempting to just hang out with your usual team at this type of event, but you see them all the time. After a quick hello to your usual crew, disperse and mingle with people you don’t know as well. The people you only talk to a few times a year are much more likely to bring you new opportunities, because they speak to you a lot less.
If you find jumping into new circles difficult (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?!), build a security blanket. Take along a friend and mingle separately, but closely. Even just introducing yourself as X from ABC department who is looking to meet people in XYZ is a good start.
Don’t get tied into a five-hour conversation with one person. After 20 minutes or so, excuse yourself to refresh your drink or use the bathroom. Ask if you can connect after the party, if you intend to do so. Just make sure that you actually do – you don’t want to appear unreliable!
That’s not to say that you need to dart around like a pinball either, though. There’s no prize for speaking to the most people. If you’re not connecting with new people, there’s no harm in moving on. If you are, though, don’t move on after mere minutes. Between 10 and 18 minutes is ideal.
One of the best essential networking tips? You don’t need to be boring. While work might be a good starter conversation because it’s common ground, you can talk about yourself, your life and your personal achievements, too. As you build connections, you’ll move away from work and start building friendships, too. Don’t be afraid to ask about holidays, hobbies and generally build rapports.
So, will you be using these essential networking tips? They definitely become more natural as you get more used to them. Don’t feel that you have to stick to them all the time – if you’ve met a lot of people and want a few minutes with your team, that’s totally fine, and if you’ve found a new best friend, don’t be worried about spending too long with them. Overall, though, these essential networking tips will see you right.
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