To succeed in your professional life (or life in general), you need to master the skill of networking. And make no mistake -- it is a skill anyone can master. It is simply turning our natural behaviours as social creatures into an organised process so we can build productive business relationships. This isn’t to say that these relationships are somehow artificial or fake—not at all. These relationships can and should be mutually beneficial, providing a path to shared success.
Here, we’ll discuss how you can be a successful networker and give you tips to help you master your connection-building through better organisation.
1. Collect Data
To be a great networker, you need to make sure that your data is organised. This includes more than just contact information like phone numbers, email addresses and LinkedIn info, but also more personalised notes about the person with whom you’re networking -- the details that make them who they are. Collecting and organising this information, particularly for the “key” people, will pay off in both the long and short run.
And there will be some people who have more of an ability to help you than others. Make sure that your most valuable contacts are within easy reach. These people tend to be the ones that can get things done, or with whom you share information or are in a similar company position and need to talk with to get things done. Keeping them at the tip of your fingers will make your day more productive, and will keep things moving at the fast pace you need.
Now that you’ve aggregated and collected your data on the people in your network, both current and prospective, you need to organise it. Understand and identify the people you need to build stronger relationships with, where everyone fits into the grand scheme of things. Using platforms like Covve can help you consolidate your contacts, identify opportunities, visualise interactions and even find new prospects in your extended network. With so many channels of communication and so much of the world within reach, you need to take advantage of modern tools. The security of your contact information is paramount, so be careful when finding the right tool to keep track of your communications.
2. Follow Through with Your Contacts
Once you’ve collected and organised your contacts, you need to keep track of how you put them to use. Making that connection is only half of the job. You also need to stay in touch. This reaches further than just the occasional “Happy birthday!” message or perfunctory, rote message. You need to develop a human relationship, that's part of why your contacts list should be more than just contact information. However, as a busy networker and professional, keeping track of ongoing communications through multiple channels can be a bit of a hassle. Again, this is where you have to have a system in place. While this could be as simple as a Google Doc or an extended contact card, it is a place where networking tools can help you cut down on missed communications and miscommunication.
3. Build Authentic Relationships
It's not about getting ahead. It's about networking to do what we humans do best: succeed through cooperation and collaboration. The relationship you're really after is an authentic and mutually beneficial one. And it’s hard to be authentic when you don’t know anything about the person you’re trying to connect with. Building a genuine connection with someone involves finding things you have in common with them, and remembering those things. People are very flattered when they can see that you’ve made some sort of effort to recall things about them, but this goes beyond keeping track of people families and birthdays. And your perspective on this should always be two-sided.
What methods do use to improve your networking efforts? Let us know in the comments section above…