Whether you are a file-and-rank employee or an established business owner, you can significantly benefit from building a strong professional network. A network can provide the feedback you didn’t know you needed, offer ideas you have never thought of before, and open doors to plenty of opportunities.
Be a Good Listener
When you attend networking events, you’ll find that people love to talk about themselves. Don’t be that person who has narcissism tattooed on his or her skin. Show that you are genuinely interested in someone’s ideas to build a deeper connection with people. As a tip, don’t do it merely for show. Listen to what other people have to say, and you’ll eventually pick up bits that will help you become the connector you wish to be.
Take an Active Part in Conversations
While it is a good practice to show interest in other people’s thoughts, you also need to be active in sharing your ideas. Don’t focus too much on being a taker; make sure also to give what you can when you can. Eventually, you will find that this will help you build lasting relationships with the people you meet. Don’t hesitate to contribute when you have useful information to share.
Challenge Your Values and Beliefs
If you want to be a connector, you have to unsubscribe to the notion that you are always right. Have a curious mind, challenge your values and beliefs, and be open to changes. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and you’ll eventually discover that there are plenty of possibilities out there.
Make Your Presence Known Online
If you’re not ready to attend networking events just yet, you can start by establishing your name online. Connect with people in your field via social media platforms, such as LinkedIn and Twitter. It’s a good stepping stone if you want to become a thought leader. Make sure to publish relevant, unique content and then promote it to the right people.
Attend Trade Shows and Conferences
Once you’re ready to show up and mingle with professionals in your industry, it’s time to sign up for networking events. You can start by observing what goes on in such occasions on your first few events, and then slowly make your way of introducing yourself to people on the following events. Sooner or later, you’ll find yourself being invited to trade shows and conferences instead of signing yourself up and paying for event fees.
Hang Out Where the Birds in Your Industry Flock Together
When it comes to growing your network, you don’t need to limit yourself to formal events. Try meeting people outside of conferences and trade shows. Hang out where the pros usually do. In Singapore, there’s a brunch café near Chinatown, which doubles as a private social club for the country’s progressive thought leaders.
If you want to connect with a diverse group of curious and passionate individuals, this is the place to be. Find similar locations in your area and be inspired to learn and create something new, and even try things out of your specialization and comfort zone.
Lastly, don’t forget to follow up with your new contacts. After attending an event, you’d probably go home with a handful of business cards in your pocket. The next morning, send them a quick message to acknowledge your meeting the previous day.