Networking, by definition, is the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions. It can also be described as the cultivation of relationships for either employment or business purposes. In business, socializing is nearly unavoidable due to its necessity. After all, no matter what a person does for a living, maintaining networks is something that will always come in handy.
When done the right way, networking is all about building meaningful relationships with like-minded individuals. The creation of a circle of people that bring value and cooperation with you or your business is what truly makes it worthwhile; it is not simply about collecting business cards. There are those who might feel a sense of dread or nervousness at the thought of networking, but it really doesn’t have to be that bad. These are a few ideas that might improve the whole experience and make networking more fun.
THEY’RE NOT CALLED SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES FOR NOTHING
This is one of the easier methods for professionals to connect. Built for this very purpose, Linkedin is a business-oriented social media application that many have flocked to. This isn’t Facebook nor is it Twitter; it is a whole new beast that has proven to be very valuable for both individuals and organizations. Besides that, it also has groups, which can be helpful for businesses. Other sites, such as the aforementioned Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are also quite useful, although they prioritize business and careers far less than Linkedin.
Facebook in particular possesses a wealth of options for any professional. For those who want to draw attention to their business, this site can serve as a great starting point, regardless of the industry. Photos, videos, important milestones, and so much more can be easily shared. For those with interesting content that they feel is worth sharing, Twitter can be a wonderful tool to utilize. The character limit may be a bit frustrating for some but professionals can opt to express themselves in lengthier ways than just tweets; direct messaging is pretty self-explanatory.
TAKE UP A NEW HOBBY OR TWO
Meeting new people doesn’t have to be a boring or a terrifying affair. If there is an activity that you want to try or if there’s a new skill that you want to learn, then there’s your answer! Joining a book club, taking up martial arts or even learning how to brew your own beer are all worthwhile and interesting endeavors. Chances are, other professionals are also trying to do the same thing, if only to escape the stresses of work and unwind.
Meeting others in relaxed, social settings is a good way to have better conversations due to the fact that people there would be more open and willing to actually socialize. Plus, with a common interest already in the background, the chances of awkward small talk is dramatically decreased. This setting is well-suited for individuals to open up to one another, ask questions, and develop new relationships. One site to check is meetup.com, which happens to be the world’s largest network of local groups. It hardly matters what it’s about; you can find just about any group there.
VOLUNTEERING IS THE WAY TO GO
Volunteering can be an equally effective method for meeting new people. Many professionals ought to consider volunteering for a cause that they care deeply for. It doesn’t matter what or where; it can be at your local church, the animal shelter, or even a non-profit where anyone can put in a few hours after work or perhaps on the weekend. You’ll have the opportunity to meet many interesting, warmhearted people.
Organize a presentation about your profession to introduce a whole new generation to it. You may even bring handouts to help you. While this may be quite beneficial to the youth, it is the parents in attendance that you can ultimately draw in. This (unorthodox) method of gaining new contacts should definitely be considered because of its multiple benefits. Some companies may even look at it as their responsibility to volunteer to causes that are near and dear to their heart, which would make this all the more easy!
RE-ESTABLISH PAST CONNECTIONS
Such events usually offer a room full of people that often have diverse interests and have taken equally diverse career paths. Best of all, all of these people already know each other. Conversation topics will definitely vary, but at some point, it is going to turn towards their careers. These old friends may develop into highly valuable connections – or at least put you in touch with those who can also serve as such. Social media sites such as Facebook would be another great way to reconnect with old friends.
Those who wish to network have a myriad of methods to do so. The most important thing would be to find a method that works best for you and to have a blast while doing it! With the recent advances of technology, there are more and easier ways to accomplish your networking goals these days than ever before.