Networking has always played a crucial role in business, but today the connections we establish over the course of our careers can be more significant than ever. That’s why networking always figures in professional guides as a focal point of any business activity or even hiring process. If you cringe at the thought of networking, assuming it’s only about small talk designed for self-promotion, you’re probably missing out on some great opportunities. If done right, networking can be a strategy for creating truly meaningful relationships that might completely revolutionize your professional life.

Here are 5 networking tips for all those of you who consider networking a necessary evil of today’s professional scene.

Construct your first impression

First impressions count; this is more than just a saying. Cognitive scientists have proved that it takes as much as 200 times more impressions to undo the first impression. Plan your first impression carefully, always show the best version of you. No matter who you’re talking to.

Be true to yourself

Have a look at yourself and define your strengths that might help you in connecting with others. Stick to your instincts and always remember your own professional goals.

It’s always easier to build on something you already have, than to acquire new qualities. If you prefer quiet, face-to-face conversations, arrange this method of communication. Not a fan of talking? Listen instead. If the process feels natural, you’re more likely to establish meaningful bonds.

Remember that less is more

When weighing your networking options, be selective. Go to fewer events – but ensure that they’re completely aligned with your industry and goals – and you’ll see yourself becoming more focused and attentive towards others and what they have to say. Don’t forcefully drag yourself to each and every event – you’ll be spreading your energy and attention too thin.

Research

Instead of wandering about large conference venues with no clue about what to do next, carefully research the event before. Learn which organizations might be of interest and determine which people you could match with easily (same industry, sector, approach, philosophy, school). Detect key figures that might be interested in what you have to say. Don’t hesitate to go up there and offer your perspective.

Be a good listener

If you think successful networking is getting your point across as many people as possible, you’re wrong. You’ll be a much better networker if you do this one simple thing – focus on others and their points of view. Ask thoughtful questions, listen carefully and offer constructive comments. This way, you’ll create relationships with professionals who share your interests.

Whether you consider yourself an introvert or you just can’t stand the reality of networking you’ve been accustomed to, you need to realize that without networking you’re actually losing a lot. If you’re serious about your career, than you must be aware of the value of learning – and it’s only from other professionals in your field that you can acquire the most valuable knowledge.

Nicole Davies works at ShortCourseFinder, a website providing a simple way to find and sign up for online short courses from Australia’s top providers. Main areas of her interest are the social media and the use of new technologies in everyday life.

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