Six degrees of separation are allegedly all that stand between you and anyone on the planet. Or, according to my father, “There are not six degrees of separation, there are two; you just have to think hard enough.”
Like him, I’m a connector, and would agree that regardless of how many people it takes to connect us, no one is too far removed. More so, it can be a great joy to facilitate those connections for people in your network.
But I’ve also learned that just because things come naturally to me, it’s not always the same for others. I learned this most pointedly with networking. Here are 16 quick, immediate tips to help you become a better networker:
Networking starts with your current contacts. Networking doesn’t necessarily mean actively pursuing making new relationships. Cultivate those you have already and invest in those relationships first.
Even if you “don’t need to network,” you do. You never know when you’ll need someone to help connect you (not always professionally). It’s improper to ask someone for help when you’ve not spoken to him/her in ages, but now are doing so simply to ask for something. Therefore, refer back to tip #1.
Think of networking as a puzzle you’re piecing together. What need does someone else have and how can you use your resources to fill that gap?
Don’t throw your cards around. We all know the person who shoves his/her business card down your throat immediately. It’s a turnoff, and not a very polite way to engage a new contact. Offer your business card after having a conversation — and asking for the other person’s first.
Remember their Rolodex. The power of networking is the people your contacts know, not always your contact directly. Keep that in mind as you help guide people towards how to help connect you.
Set expectations. Let people know how and when you’ll contact them (and then do it).