How to Network

People love to say, “It’s all about who you know,” when discussing professional development.

And though it’s been around forever, this sentiment is incomplete, at least in today’s world. Landing a great job or building up a career is often made through great networking practices and techniques that communicate values and insights to your peers. Perhaps, then, it’s not about who you know, but rather how you know who you know. Let’s take a look at three essential steps to anyone looking to network in business.

Developing Your Networking Style

It might sound a bit like marketing-speak, but at its core, professional networking is another important form of personal branding. Brand is really a conversation, just the same as the expo-floor small talk that scored you a sit-down with a new employer or client. So, it makes sense that your approach to networking be rooted equally in staying true to yourself.

That does sound pretty Zen but developing a networking style that feels comfortable and personal is anything but simple, and it’s safe to say it’s going to take some time. There some tried and trusted approaches to engaging with people that can help set you up for success in growing a network.

  • You’ve got to go to them. Don’t expect people to contact you to see if you want or need anything.
  • Listening is just as important as talking. Maybe more! Use Active listening techniques to improve your understanding and general interactions, even online.
  • It’s what you say AND how you say it. It’s easy to spot someone armed with bravado while being light on substance. Try to make both parts of your pitch equal.
  • Don’t put off a follow up, it’s part of the pitch. A networking interaction never ends at a handshake. Start fostering the relationship right away with a timely reintroduction.

Networking doesn’t have to be a specific, focused, or strategized interaction. Instead, it can be so personalized it simply becomes shorthand for good communication.

Public Event Networking

Love them or not, professional expos are one of your best chances for face-to-face time with the people you need the most. Data published by Bizago showed that 84% of business leaders believe in-person events are critical to their success, meaning a lot of effort is placed into these gatherings. As you maneuver between crowded floor spaces and busy booths, it becomes obvious that making a new contact for your network will mean approaching another stranger just to say hello. But once the social anxiety of breaking into a conversation passes, the question is what will you say about yourself? And how will you say it?

Context plays a big part in any communication style. Just as you wouldn’t want to yell to a friend in a quiet library, you don’t want to approach a casual social hour with the intense vigor of an elevator pitch. Many of these folks are people you’ve never met, so how can your networking leave a good lasting impression?

  • Do your research. Knowing details like your industry demographics and the people at an event can help you to refine your messaging and voice.
  • Participation is required. You attended this conference to meet people. Going to more events gives you a chance to interact and engage with more folks.
  • Ask questions first, ask questions later. Research from Harvard Business Review found that not only do people respond better to questions in conversation, they like you more. Try asking follow-up questions, the data shows they have the best response.
  • Did you follow up yet? Seriously, though, this is important. Always do this.

Public networking events can feel like a junior high school dance. It’s loud, there’s always music, it inexplicably smells like floor polish and french fries, and you’ve got anxiety. But by remaining confident, putting yourself out there, and remembering to make it appealing to talk with you, these things can feel more like you’re the belle of the ball.

Social Media Tips

It’s no secret that social media has become the primary meeting place for anyone looking for networking. The instant and digital connections are far-reaching and help to grow your brand beyond geographical trade show hall exit doors. A recent statistic from CareerArc shows that 91% of employers are using these social platforms to find their employees. The flipside? With everyone in such a crowded place, you’ve got to go further to set yourself apart.

While it’s still just a form of communicating, networking via social media has its own unique wrinkles. These are sites and apps with technical requirements, and missing them could actually prevent your posts from getting to the right people. Even though we’re all a superstar online, it’s a good idea to keep your notepad out with these steps on the page.

  • What site are you even on? Each of these sites have different vibes. You’re not going to want a Facebook status posted on a Linkedin wall.
  • Maintain that quality control! Consistency is ever-important, so be sure the post schedule and content types are similar in planning.
  • Use DMs to schedule a professional meeting. Chatting online might be comfortable, but the more professional approach is to offer chances to speak in-person or over the phone.
  • Did you…follow up yet? Well?

Networking plays a big role in developing your personal brand and salesability. But instead of treating the interactions as a systematic sales pitch, make sure to stay comfortable and sincere, just the same way you would with a new friend. By thinking critically about your branding, focusing on personal interactions in public events, and using social media efficiently, you can quickly grow that ever-important list of who you know.

The Mentorship Checklist for Mentors and Mentees

The journey up the mountain of measured professional development is rarely an easy journey. Ahead lie career obstacles that block paths, a standing ground that’s slippery at best, and a road without signposts telling you the next move. With so much to consider, sometimes even the first step toward becoming a self-assured professional can be daunting.

However, when you meet the right guide, the trek suddenly feels a little lighter. A great relationship between mentor and mentee is a two-way street and becomes more of a conversation than a seminar. But, the requirements of a mentor are drastically different than those of a learning mentee. Let’s look at some tips for finding a mentor, inspiring your mentee, and working together.

 

Checklist for Finding a Mentor

Statistics published in the Centre for Workplace Mentorship 2016 found that employees with mentors were 20 percent more likely to receive a pay raise, got promoted five times faster, and had higher levels of retention. However, unless you’ve got a connection to a mentorship matchmaker, finding the right fit takes time and an ability to see potential in every candidate. Knowing the right questions to ask and how to best interact in this situation will make you more aware and help you select a better match.

 

__Dedicate time and effort into the search process, think critically about what you want to be like and who best exemplifies that.

__Perform a kind of background check to ensure you know exactly what this person has done in the past.

__Don’t rush into asking for mentorship. Establish a relationship and keep the request less-than-formal.

__If the individual says no, you might ask if they have recommendations for somebody similar to ask.

_Instill a sense of respect by sending a rapid follow-up message.

 

Checklist for Inspiring Your Mentee

Teachers in our lives provide us with more than lessons and tips; They’re also responsible for getting us excited about learning. This kind of inspiration is an excellent catalyst for personal growth. The same is true for mentors showing their pupils not only how to do it, but why it matters. The process of figuring out how to translate experience is often exciting and revelatory for the mentor.

This checklist can give mentors a good starting line for achieving the abstract goal of inspiration. While it seems like a lofty idea, you have an advantage here. Your student, as it were, has chosen you specifically because they find you compelling, informative, and maybe even a little bit inspiring. The items on this list will help you look within and distill your knowledge into information your mentee can use.

 

__Maintain focus on your pupil and avoid lengthy personal anecdotes.

__Customize lessons for individual relevance to ensure you’re imparting wisdom they need to hear.

__Try to make yourself available mornings, nights, and weekends, as your mentee might have a more restrictive schedule.

__Make conscious notes of their strengths and weaknesses, and take time to celebrate whenever the strengths grow and the weaknesses improve.

__Make it clear, both formally and informally, that there is nothing owed to you by the mentee, not even success.

 

Checklist for Your Mentorship Meeting

Once the partnership has been solidified, the progress can start. As with any form of self-improvement, you get out of it what you put into it. This final checklist is the clearest view of how this symbiotic relationship works. In a mentorship, nothing can be accomplished by one side. This is a classic give and take process.

 

__Set clear expectations for both sides by each writing a short paragraph of what they expect from one another.

__Each year, work together to create one to three goals for the next 12 months.

__During sessions, both parties will listen intently and actively, as well as avoid raising voices or making angry gestures.

__Set appropriate boundaries that protect the privacy of the mentor and the independence of the mentee.

 

Mentors and mentees could go a long time without ever meeting. However, for one reason or another, the two of you have teamed up for a fulfilling and worthwhile journey toward personal development and professional success. Whether you’re the teacher or the learner, be sure to use these checklists to get the most out of your partnership.

 

Finding the Leader in You

Have you tried writing four books, traveling the country for presentations, hosting a podcast, and raising a child? Join us today to hear how Chris Molina does it all, and how you can, too.

During his seven years of active duty in the Marine Corps, his four years at Purdue University as a student leader, his six months as a government contractor, and his three years in the corporate world, Chris Molina has developed a passion for leadership. He shares his experiences to help young leaders develop themselves for future success through speaking events, podcasts, and his book. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter, two dogs, and cat. 

External links: 

Chris Molina portfolio

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SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society 

Inspiring Servant Leadership in Others

Servant leadership means doing whatever you can to help your colleagues and peers become their very best. Key elements of this philosophy include a commitment to developing others, foresight, and stewardship of resources and trust. Every servant leader will naturally encounter situations where they want to see their peers develop as servant leaders, too. As you prioritize this part of your employees’ growth, consider these steps that can accelerate their journey to leadership.

Nurture Skills and Goals

Listening is high on the list of the most important characteristics of a servant leader. The first step toward inspiring employees to practice servant leadership is to listen to what direction they want to grow. If someone wants to learn more about compliance and documentation, for instance, putting them in a customer service role might not be the best idea. By listening, you will pinpoint the various strengths on the team and learn how to develop the group in a way that moves you beyond bottlenecks or other challenges. As each person feels fully utilized and empowered, they will be inspired to lead in the workplace because that effort advances their goals.

Create a Culture of Trust

For servant leadership to truly take root and thrive in an organization, there must be a culture of trust. Employees must be able to rely on the leader to provide what is needed on the path to success. The leader must continue to believe in the employees even when one specific project or situation might seem like a step back. One study published in Harvard Business Review found that employees in a high-trust workplace reported 74 percent less stress, 40 percent less burnout, and 13 percent fewer sick days. Servant leadership and the trust that develops from the approach have major benefits to a business.

Encourage Foresight and Shared Perspective

Another beginner step in developing as a servant leader is to adopt long-term thinking and start researching what is next for the organization. When evolving an employee as a servant leader, allow them to suggest contacts or new strategies that might improve life for their peers down the road. This is especially true when it comes to networking, which is a vital skill for any leader. Not only does it help form connections that can solve problems and drive growth, but also networking builds a professional’s reputation in their own industry.

These tips, that can help inspire servant leadership in your employees, are really just advice for practicing servant leadership yourself. By listening to employees and pivoting to meet their goals, you deepen loyalty and build trust. As that trust is expressed through the culture, it is safe to try new things. In that environment, leaders will step up to help and serve each other, naturally following the example of those around them. For help achieving the dream, call on Alpha Kappa Psi for insight and support.

Don’t Hesitate

Today’s chat follows the story of another entrepreneur who decided to leave the corporate world to pursue a dream in race and event management. Todd Oliver talks to us about handling conflict, improving customer service for his runners, and rallying support in the community to get a company off the ground.

Todd Oliver graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1989. Much of his career has been involved in sports marketing with stints in auto racing in various marketing roles, with a final stop at the American College of Sports Medicine as the vice president of corporate partnerships through 2014. In 2009, Oliver started his second running event company, Carmel Road Racing Group, with shared ownership specifically for the Carmel Marathon. Today, the company owns six events in the Indianapolis area and stages four under contract with two hosted out-of-state.

External links: 

CRRG Events