Scrub up on your networking abilities and start making a ton of connections, you never know who you might meet and where it might take you…
Go to talks, conferences and other events
Push yourself out of your comfort zone and go and learn new things and listen to new people. When you’re there, talk to all those around you, start with those sitting on their own they’re probably there for a reason rather than just a jolly with their mates, find out what that reason is (and even if you’re not, act interested in what they do).
Act on it
Once you’ve come from home said talks/conferences add those who you spoke to or those who spoke on LinkedIn or other social platforms as it’s good to make the connection straight up.
Get it looking chipper
If you’re networking for an end goal, for example investors for your business, make sure that the personality you want them to see if reflected across your social platforms. The people you approach will more than likely go home and google you if you made an impression. If the aforementioned goal of finances was your goal, then your Facebook ought to not represent a party-goer who spends their money getting drunk, as this will be a turn-off (for most), and of course this does entirely depend on what your end goal is. You don’t have to make your social profiles boring, but put yourself if those you are trying to approach’s position.
Put your journalist hat on
Have a set of questions prepared to ask people, and don’t just think up the generic ‘how did you get where you are today’ questions, really think about open ended questions that will allow them to open up and chat easily about topics they love, and topics that you might know very little about. Forget the small talk, business events and networking events aren’t the place.
When you walk in a room full of strangers, they are exactly that, strangers, and so use that as a benefit because it means you can be whoever you want. By that we don’t mean a catch-me-if-you-can style anyone, we mean people don’t need to know that you aren’t super confident normally, just pretend and they’ll soon believe you, and then in turn you’ll be confident. It’s simple.
Don’t forget about the connections you’ve made. If you have a question go back to those you’ve met in the past and ask them, drop them a line on LinkedIn. Call upon those who have previously helped you. Maintain those connections. If someone has helped you, take them out for a drink or call them to thank them.
Give back as much as you can
Remember you were in that spot once. If someone needs help, help. If someone is starting a business and has asked you to share a link on your page, do it. Networking isn’t a one-way thing, and similarly people will get annoying if you’re constantly asking and never giving. Remember if people are coming to you for help, it means they respect you or value your opinion/answer, so listen and help where possible.