Networking 101: How to Build Strong Connections

In this article, we share our top tips for networking to build strong connections.

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If you’ve reached that point in your career where you know it’s time to branch out and start making new connections, then it’s time to get a little more serious about networking. If it’s something you’ve thought about but have never actually done before, the idea can feel a little intimidating. The uncertainty of starting to network can cause you to feel unnecessary stress.

However, with just a little bit of guidance, networking can become much easier to do and whether you’re business networking in Louisiana or meeting new suppliers in Japan, you’ll be able to build resilient, lasting connections.

Here are some tips for networking to build strong connections:

Start with Linkedin

Linkedin can be an intimidating place for those who feel like they don’t have a strong grasp of the platform. It can seem as if everyone else in the world is a pro at networking and meeting new people. Though it can seem like that, it’s important to remember that even the most active people on Linkedin once started where you are now.

Linkedin is a social media platform that can help you make strong career connections if you put in the effort and start strategizing. While you might not be setting out to make hundreds of lasting connections, it’s important to remember that it may take hundreds of tries. Many people on Linkedin are weary of connecting and communicating with people they don’t know. Bearing this in mind, there are several ways to get around this barrier.

You can start by connecting with people who have mutual connections with you. This way you can start a conversation with “hi, I see you know so and so…” By presenting a connection you already have to someone, they’ll be more likely to engage with you.

Another useful strategy when connecting with new people on Linkedin is to look for people who share some sort of similarity with you. A great one to start with is by reaching out to people who attended the same schools as you. This way you’ll be able to start by explaining that you noticed this similarity.

Though these strategies can be extremely useful, it’s important to remember that not everyone will bite. Don’t let yourself be discouraged when people don’t engage, because that’s a natural part of the networking process. The more resilience you build in this area, the easier it will become to make new connections on Linkedin.

Look to Networking and Industry Specific Meetups
While connecting over social media is an important part of networking in today’s digital age, meeting people in person can make it easier to develop a strong connection with someone. This being the case, you benefit substantially from frequenting various networking meetups along with other more industry-specific meetups. If you’re still in college, this can include becoming more involved in various school clubs and groups, such as attending advanced business groups to build your MBA network.

When meeting people in person, it can be far easier to start a conversation than on Linkedin. While someone on Linkedin might ignore you, the vast majority of people would never do this in person. This gives you the chance to talk to more people and really get a sense of your similarities and common interests. The more meetups you attend, the more potential connections you’ll be able to make.

Making connections can become even easier when you attend meetups that revolve around the industry you work in or aspire to work in. This way you’ll know you’ll have common ground with the majority of people you speak to. This can also be more useful when it comes to making connections that might one day turn into you stepping into a new career.

As such, by being proactive about attending industry-specific meetups, you can start making useful and lasting connections.

Stay in Touch

While many think that meeting many new people all the time is the most important part of networking, this is actually false. Meeting someone doesn’t make a huge difference if you’re not fostering a connection after you meet. This is why staying in touch with connections and really developing a relationship is the most important part of networking.

Sometimes, it can feel difficult to know how to successfully navigate interacting with your connections over a long period of time. This being the case, it can help to make a schedule to help make it an easier and more streamlined process. This can be something like always messaging a new connection two to three days after you first meet and then messaging them every two weeks thereafter.

You may have a strategy in which you ask your connections to meet for coffee after three exchanges. Whatever your strategy is, it’s important that you’re consistent. This consistency will help allow you to foster relationships that are deep and stand the test of time.

This way, your networking connections will go beyond just the interactions of acquaintances and instead will be given the chance to grow into something more substantial.

Making Connections Count

Networking and building strong connections can seem intimidating and difficult if you’ve never done it before. Though this might be your initial impression, once you get your feet wet and start networking it becomes much easier. By utilising these simple suggestions, you can be on your way to fostering countless strong connections that last for years to come.     

This article was guest written by Andrew Deen.

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