There are usually opportunities to network everyday, but sometimes we may miss the opportunities without even realizing it. Networking can be a crucial step in building the career we desire. Those people we pass in the hallways, airports, standing in line at the mall, or wherever we may happen to be may be exactly the people who can help us in our careers. We might even be able to help them, as well.
It is a great idea to carry business cards with you at all times in case the opportunity arises for you to make a new contact. Just this past week several of my students spent time in my office creating business cards to carry with them to an event where they would be making contacts with business professionals. They wanted to make sure they were prepared just in case the opportunity to make a new contact was to present itself.
If you plan on attending an event and you know who will be attending, take time to find out about the people you may be introduced to or have the opportunity to meet. It helps to know as much as you can before meeting and striking up a conversation. This gives you a chance to consider topics of conversation beforehand to help you be prepared.
Don’t make the mistake of overlooking people you work with on a daily basis. Learn to meet new people that you aren’t already familiar with and expand your networking base. The conversation could be started with, “I know we have seen each other quite a few times but I don’t believe we have been introduced.” I am amazed at how quickly the awkwardness vanishes and true conversation takes place once you make the first move.
Make it a point to meet people at your workplace from various levels or departments within the organization. It’s a fact that people tend to make friends at work with people who are similar and have similar interests but reach out to people with other interests to expand your network.
A great way to meet new people at your place of work is by joining committees or serving as a volunteer for various events. When you serve on a committee you have an excellent opportunity to make new friends and new contacts. I enjoy being part of the community within my organization. From time to time I have chosen to stay within my own department and I have found that to be less than rewarding emotionally and within my career. Step outside your box or your comfort zone and you might be amazed at how many people you will get to know better.
A final point to make is remember to listen instead of just always trying to think about what you can say next. People want to know you are actually giving them your undivided attention. Part of building any relationship, even a work relationship, is learning to listen. Be engaged in the conversation and be the kind of listener you want others to be when you are speaking. Build a strong network that will be beneficial to you and to others. Get started networking today!