Technology may change, and the methods and formats we use to communicate may evolve rapidly, but the basic principles that support effective networking tend to remain the same. More than anything else, most people seek out friendly, familiar faces and voices. They feel a sense of pleasure and reward when they learn something new, and feel an equally strong sense of pleasure and reward when they share new information, teach something new, or help someone else accomplish a goal.
So what do these essential facts mean for your 2016 networking strategy? Keep these tips in mind, whether you’re communicating by text, email, phone, social media or face-to-face conversation.
Focus on others
When you’re trying to spark a conversation or keep an active dialogue open and in motion, don’t emphasize your own issues. Turn the spotlight toward the other person, and turn statements about yourself into questions about your companion. If you can’t think of a way to start your message or a way to break the ice, think for a minute about your audience. What does she do? What’s been happening in her life recently? What topics in the local and national news have probably had an impact on her daily routine?
Every touch can resonate
If you’d like to follow up with a recruiter or touch base with a potential contact, be proactive, and recognize that a little goes a long way. A short, polite one-line message or question might be enough to accomplish your goal; and if so, there’s no need for a five-page message or a constant stream of pushy, repetitive texts.
Feelings come through
People have an uncanny ability to sense when we’re trying to make a meaningful connection and when we’re transparently networking. So be nice. Don’t think of your intended connection as a career-building move, think of it as an opportunity to learn more about someone you admire or respect. The best networkers, ironically, are those who don’t network at all. They just enjoy the company of others and genuinely like making new friends.
When people tell you something about themselves or their companies, remember what they say. Pay special attention to needs, pain points, goals and desires. If they’re struggling with something, they want something or they’re facing a challenge, remember this fact. Even if you have nothing to offer at that moment, you never know when this might change.
The two most powerful words in your network-building toolkit are these: Thank you. Whenever you have a reason to thank someone, even the flimsiest reason, do so. There’s never anything wrong with showing gratitude and appreciation.
For more on how to build your connections and strengthen your relationships during this year—or any year—reach out to the Charlotte career management experts at PSU.