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  • Writer's pictureJoshua Soloway

6 Ways to sale yourself better (get your mind out of the gutter): Professional Networking skills


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Networking is a crucial aspect of building a successful career in today's professional world. It's not just about who you know, but how well you can leverage those connections to open up opportunities and grow in your chosen field. In this blog post, we'll explore six helpful habits that can significantly improve your networking skills. Whether you're a recent graduate entering the job market or a seasoned professional looking to expand your network, these strategies will help you build meaningful connections and advance your career.


Be Proactive and Strategic

One of the most common networking misconceptions is that it's all about attending events and collecting business cards. While these activities have their place, being proactive and strategic in your approach is equally, if not more, important.

Research Your Industry

Before you start reaching out to professionals, invest time in researching your industry. Understand the key players, trends, and emerging technologies. This knowledge will not only help you engage in more meaningful conversations but also allow you to identify the individuals or organizations that align with your professional goals.

Set Clear Goals

Define your networking goals. Are you looking for a mentor, job opportunities, or new clients? Knowing what you want to achieve will guide your networking efforts. This focus will make your interactions more purposeful and yield better results.

Create a Target List

Identify the people or organizations you want to connect with. It's not about the quantity of connections but the quality. A carefully curated list of targets will ensure that you're focusing your energy on the most valuable relationships.

Build a Strong Online Presence

In today's digital age, your online presence is often the first impression you make on potential connections. Ensure you're putting your best foot forward.

LinkedIn: Your Digital Business Card

Create a compelling LinkedIn profile that highlights your skills, achievements, and professional goals. Regularly update it with your latest accomplishments, and use the platform to connect with industry peers and engage in relevant discussions.

Personal Website or Blog

Consider creating a personal website or blog to showcase your expertise. This is an excellent way to share your thoughts and insights on topics related to your field. Be sure to include a professional bio and links to your social profiles.

Maintain Consistency

Your online presence should be consistent with your real-life persona. Use a professional profile picture and make sure your digital interactions align with your professional goals.

Attend Industry Events

Physical and virtual industry events provide excellent opportunities for networking. They bring together professionals who share common interests and goals. Here's how to make the most of these occasions:


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Pre-event Preparation

Before attending an event, research the speakers, panelists, and attendees. Reach out to those you'd like to connect with and express your interest in meeting them. This preparation will make it easier to strike up conversations during the event.

Active Participation

Don't be a passive observer. Engage in discussions, ask questions, and share your insights. Being an active participant in the event will help you stand out and be remembered.

Follow-Up

After the event, send follow-up emails or LinkedIn messages to the people you've met. Thank them for their time and express your interest in continuing the conversation. Building relationships requires ongoing effort.

Nurture Relationships

Networking isn't just about making initial connections; it's about cultivating and maintaining relationships over time.

Keep in Touch

Regularly check in with your connections. Share articles, insights, or updates that you think might interest them. This shows that you value the relationship and are willing to contribute to it.

Offer Help

Networking is a two-way street. Be willing to provide assistance when you can. Offer your expertise or support without expecting immediate reciprocation. Being helpful can solidify your connections.

Be Authentic

Authenticity is key to building lasting relationships. Be yourself, and don't try to be someone you're not. People appreciate genuine connections more than superficial ones.

Learn the Art of Small Talk

Small talk is often underestimated in networking, but it can be a powerful tool for breaking the ice and making connections. Mastering the art of small talk is essential for networking success.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

Rather than relying on yes-or-no questions, ask open-ended questions that encourage a more extended conversation. For example, instead of asking, "Did you have a good weekend?" try, "What did you do over the weekend?"

Listen Actively

Pay attention to what the other person is saying and respond thoughtfully. This not only demonstrates your interest but also helps you find common ground for further discussion.

Practice Active Listening

Networking isn't just about talking; it's also about listening. Make an effort to remember details about the people you meet, such as their interests, career goals, and challenges. This will enable you to follow up with more personalized conversations.

Join Professional Groups and Associations

One of the best ways to network with like-minded professionals is by joining industry-specific groups and associations. These organizations provide a structured environment for networking and professional development.

Benefits of Membership

Professional groups and associations offer a range of benefits, such as access to industry insights, educational resources, and networking events. By becoming a member, you'll automatically expand your network within your field.


Volunteer for Leadership Roles

Getting involved in leadership roles within these organizations can be a game-changer. It allows you to establish yourself as an expert in your field and build relationships with other motivated professionals.

Attend Conferences and Workshops

Participating in the events organized by these groups is a great way to meet like-minded individuals who share your professional interests. Take advantage of these opportunities to make valuable connections. Effective networking is an essential skill in the professional world. By adopting these six helpful habits, you can improve your networking abilities and advance your career. Remember to be proactive and strategic, build a strong online presence, attend industry events, nurture relationships, master the art of small talk, and join professional groups and associations. These practices, when consistently applied, will help you create a strong and diverse professional network, opening up countless opportunities in your career journey. Start implementing these habits today, and watch your network grow and your career prosper.

Much Love,

Josh


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