Becoming a Master Networker

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'Networking' is a vital point in your professional career or as an entrepreneur –it is an inevitable element for your progress, especially when you are an immigrant living in another country and you need to make new contacts to get yourself out there.

You might even think what the heck can I do?  Where and how can I begin nurturing and growing my network?

The following list will help you organize your thoughts and realize that, even without thinking, you have been nurturing your network for a long time.

Where?

1.       Start with what you know: Networking should start as an organic process, and the best place to create and grow your network it isn’t just  signing up for an informal networking event, or to start a cold call campaign to companies or unknown people.

  • Real networking begins by contacting the people you already know (family, close friends, study partners, etc.), and nurturing those relationships in an authentic way. These people form the base of network pyramid and can help you connect with their friends, acquaintances or companies with whom they have strong relationships.
  • Reconnect with your university colleagues who are in the country where you live and even in other countries – you’ll never know where your next opportunity will be.
  • Search and connect with colleagues from the companies where you worked previously.
  • Reconnect and talk with teachers, mentors, friends and acquaintances of your country of origin.

2.       Connect with people you’ve never known: Find those events in your city that are relevant to your interests and/or profession. Remember – this can be a pivotal moment in your life and make a career change, or to start your journey towards being an entrepreneur.

3.       Don’t forget your social media: LinkedIn is the most obvious and most important social media for professional online networking. Nurture it by creating your profile and looking to connect with people related to your area.

4.       Search for professional groups related to your industry and join them. Then start participating in those conversations by asking questions. There are many other LinkedIn-like platforms (Xing, Ryze, FastPitch, AngelList, MeetUp, Opprtunity, PartnerUp, etc.) and surely, you can find very interesting people there.

 How? 

1.       If You are Networking in person:

  • Smile. Keep an bright, positive attitude to meet new people. That shows your interest in knowing what the other person has to say.
  • Listen actively, then speak. People love to talk about themselves. Listen to what that person wants to tell you first and then talk about what you have in common.
  • Carry business cards with you always. Never miss the opportunity to provide your contact information quickly, even if you found that key contact while grocery shopping.
  • Repeat (and remember) his/her name. Once you introduce yourself to a new person and memorize their name - by repeating it several times during the conversation - it will denote that you really paid attention and are interested in their conversation.
  • Be yourself. What you are looking for are real people, with common interests like yours. Don’t show a false interest or behavior if you don’t feel comfortable or interested in engaging in relevant conversations.
  • Be always in Networking mode. Wherever you go. You will never know when you will need help from a friend / acquaintance of your contacts, so communicate periodically with them.
  • Take your hobbies with you. Remember that you can share what you are most passionate about, the books you read or ask what she / he does, and thus find common ground to a more meaningful chat.
  • Prepare yourself. If you go to an event, research what type of audience will attend, and have direct questions ready. Prepare your 'elevator pitch' or a summary of who you are, what you do and how you can help these new contacts to connect with others and benefit each other.
  • Be generous. Sincerely help this new contact in any way you can, either by introducing another person you know, or by providing valuable information without expecting anything in return.

1.       If you are Networking Online:

  • Create a profile in social media for business professionals, and include all the information that someone needs to know about you in the professional field.
  • Invite to connect with key people in your area of nterest and, once the connection is accepted, introduce yourself (truly connect) by sending them a private message about whom you are and your particular interest when connecting.
  • Join professional groups in that social network that connects you to others for common interests.
  • Try to talk either by phone or in person with the connections you make - remember that we are human and the live connection is important!
  • Accept invitations to connect from others, and then introduce yourself by sending a direct message.
  • Do not forget to nurture those connections!

The skill of growing your network depends on you to break the ice, to be willing to meet new people and to have fun in the process! tell us here on in social media what you think about this article!

With Love & Success,

Ilia.

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“It’s all about WHO you know, WHAT you know and WHAT you are going to do about it.” – Valerie Pereira @vpkeepingitreal (A fantastic woman – who I knew through our mutual friend Gris ;) – and finally met at a Networking event).
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