Social media network or people communication diagram drawn on paper using red color pen

Networking is interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. Networking is key to a successful and expanding career. The aim of networking is to build a strong, long lasting association and to establish a mutual, beneficial relationship with other businesses and people or potential customers.

How to Network

Creating a good first impression:

The first step in networking is to create a good first impression. It is important to make a positive first impression as it can make the difference between starting a relationship on the right foot or wrong foot. A good first impression with confidence and professionalism sets the tone for what you represent as you make contacts and build relationships. You never get a second chance to make a first impression with someone!

There are 3 important things to consider when meeting someone for the first time:

Focus: When you first meet someone, where is your focus? Don’t think about yourself: think about the other person and how you can make them feel.

Conversation: Drive conversations with questions. Get people talking about themselves. Take interest in the other person. For example, ask questions about family and occupation.

Body Language: To get your body language right, give a genuine smile, make eye contact and give a good handshake. Body language makes a huge difference to first impressions.

When networking, you have to know when to introduce yourself. Have you ever wondered whether it’s appropriate to a conversation with someone, especially if you don’t know them? Well, a simple thing to remember is the three foot/thirty second rule: if you enter a room and are three feet from someone, you should acknowledge them. If you have been in a space for thirty seconds or more, and a person is not engaged in a conversation, you should introduce yourself.

Why networking?

Networking is about sharing, creating trust and helping one another reach goals. Regularly engaging with contacts and finding opportunities to support them helps strengthen your connection. Networking isn’t always with ‘business people’. You can network with friends and family as well. A good networker will invest their time in getting to know people. The more effort you put in, the more you will get out of the relationship.

Your network includes everyone from family and friends to colleagues, professional connections, social media contacts and members of groups or organisations. Regularly interacting within your industry can set you up well to progress in your career. Developing relationships with your contacts is mutually beneficial. You can raise your professional profile and increase your access to opportunities, and your contacts are likely to experience those same rewards from networking with you.

Social Networking is the use of internet-based social media sites to stay connected with others, whether they be part of your personal or professional circles. Social Networking can have a social purpose, a business purpose or both. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter are the most recommended sites for networking, but you may find others that work for you.  Social networking has become a significant opportunity for marketers to engage customers, as they use can social networking to increase brand recognition and encourage brand loyalty. Companies use social media to drive sales through advertising and promotion, regulate consumer trends and offer customer service and support. This has become such a large market that many big companies employ whole teams of people whose jobs are to manage their social media presence.

Benefits of Networking- here are some key benefits of networking:

Strengthens business connections: Networking is about sharing, not taking. It is about building trust and supporting one another – engaging with contacts and finding opportunities to help them makes the relationship stronger.

Builds confidence: By continually meeting new people and putting yourself out there, you are stepping outside your comfort zone and building self-confidence and valuable social skills. The more you network, the more your social skills and connections will develop.

Advances your career: Being noticed is a benefit of networking that is important in career building. Attending professional and social events will benefit you by getting you known. Being knowledgeable, reliable and supportive will build your reputation. This might be as simple as offering information or tips to people who need it.

Gaining new ideas: Networking is an excellent source of new perspectives and ideas to help you in your role. Exchanging information on experiences, challenges and goals allows you to gain new insights that you can use to enhance your performance. In the same way, offering ideas to a contact is a worthy way to build your reputation as an innovative thinker.

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