Adapted from 2017 National Conference Presentation by Julie Jansen
There are many steps you can take to become a great networker and establish valuable, lasting professional relationships throughout your life.
- Remember People’s Names
When you’re introduced to someone new, it’s not always easy to immediately commit his/her name to memory. The following tricks can help with that.
o Repeat the person’s name two or three times.
o Make an association between their name and something or someone else.
Make Small Talk or Conversation
It’s important to be able to initiate or carry a conversation with people. If you don’t feel particularly adept at that, try to of some questions ahead of time that will help generate a dialogue or keep it going. But try to avoid controversial topics such as politics and religion. Below is a list of possible subjects, and a related question for each:
o Work: “What was the first job you ever had?”
o Entertainment: “What’s your favorite TV show?”
o Food: “What’s your favorite comfort food?”
o Travel: “Where is the last place you traveled to?”
o Life story: “What is one of your hidden talents?”
- Approach People Who Are Senior to You
While the idea of reaching out to someone who has a higher-level job than you might be intimidating, those connections can sometimes be extremely valuable. Here are some ways to go about it:
o Get someone to make an introduction.Be careful not to assume that only people in more senior positions can help you. It can be easier and just as productive to network with people who are either at the same level or even junior to you, or who don’t have as much experience.
o If you can’t get introduced by someone, try a direct approach (e.g., e-mail or call).
o Be professional and succinct.
o Adapt your style to match this person’s.
o Be clear about your skills and expertise.
o Create a simple agenda.
o Meet them and follow up.
- Use Proper Networking Etiquette
As with any social encounter, it’s important to follow appropriate etiquette — such as:
o Make a positive first impression.
o Move from guest behavior to host behavior.
o Never assume that people are acknowledged or appreciated. When you’re interacting with someone, it’s a good idea to say something nice about them, without being disingenuous.
o Be professional when using e-mail, and try to use the word “you” more often than the word “I.”
o Anyone with whom you’ve spent more than 15 minutes should be acknowledged in some way afterward.
o If you say you’ll do something, do it in a timely manner.
Learn more on how to network effectively to connect with the right people.