Approximate reading time: 2m 3s
What do you think of when you hear the word networking? Events that you think you should attend even though you don't want to? Forced conversations with strangers? Exchanging business cards with someone you're never sure how to follow up with?
We all know that networking is important to our professional success. In fact, according to LinkedIn, 85% of jobs come from networking and you're 70% more likely to get promoted if you have an active relationship with mentors. Relationships are important, and getting better at building and nurturing them should be on everyone's list.
Take this quiz to find out what kind of networker you are and how you can improve your skills:
You tend to fall back into the crowd. You watch what's going on but don't get involved. You never initiate and rarely follow up on new connections.
The result: your network is small and you're not in people's face as a resource. If you're uncomfortable, make slight changes. For example, consider following others via email or social media. If you prefer face-to-face contact, invite someone to lunch with you. If you find it easier to join a group, ask to join one that has room for one more at the table. Look for situations that suit your style and comfort until you get used to joining.
You're interested in making new connections, but feel more comfortable when someone else takes the lead. You struggle to continue the conversation. You respond to other people's attempts to connect frequently and often follow up with something specific. You take a subtle approach, though sometimes your comfort and confidence may get in the way. You're on the right track; stretch a little more and you'll increase your comfort level. Set a weekly goal to start a conversation with someone and reach out to a new contact. Don't doubt that they want to know you; you're not someone who's too pushy, so don't worry about feeling like you're nagging.
You actively network and have a balanced approach. You look for opportunities, include other people in the conversation and follow up regularly. People think of you for a number of reasons and you effectively reside in their minds. Keep doing what works. Also, expand the way you make new contacts so that your network goes beyond the close circle you've already established. Expand the reach of your network by geography, industry, function, gender, age, etc. With a more diverse network, you'll be better positioned to make valuable introductions and practice giving to others. Remember, don't over network. It's okay to keep yourself in their mind, but not in their face.
You are strategic and methodical about networking. This is high on your list of priorities and you take a numbers approach. You are involved in many organizations, which increases your knowledge because you or your name appears everywhere. However, your approach may feel disingenuous or overbearing to some. Give your contacts space and use a lighter touch when you visit them. Strive to touch on more superficial topics that come up in business. Make sure people feel you value the time you spend with them, not that you're looking for more interesting contacts in the room. Don't push too hard; just consider the timing, frequency and depth of the conversation.