*Originally posted on LinkedIn.
Everyone knows the importance of creating a strong network around you, but few know exactly how to go about building that network. From the CEO to the entry-level employee, having memorable conversations with your potential network is going to be beneficial in the long run because these connections could lead to advancement and job opportunities. Making these meaningful contacts can be a challenge because it can be intimidating, but there are strategies you can employ at your next networking event to help guide how you network to make it less of a challenge.
Networking is important, but people can sometimes feel like it is only used as a selfish way to further your career, but try not to think of it only in this light. Instead, think of networking as just a way to meet people. This will not only make your conversations feel less forced, but it will also take away the layer of inauthenticity that often comes about during a networking conversation. Be interested in the other person’s story and try to find common ground between the two of you in your chat. Don’t just be a collector of business cards like they’re some form of currency, be attentive and show that you care. Making a human connection with a person is going to be far more valuable than a mere business connection. Ask insightful questions and really listen to their answers.
Know Your Worth
If you are entry level and you come face to face with a CEO or someone in upper management, relax. Don’t act as though they have more worth than you because they are in a position with more power. Before even going to the event, think about what traits you have that set you above the rest. What experiences, skills, and knowledge do you have that makes you stand out? Go into the event with this confidence and you’ll be able to talk to anyone as an equal.
After the event, try to follow up with a few standout networking connections within a few days. Writing a quick email shortly after meeting the person is going to be easier than trying to reconnect a few months later. Touch briefly on some of the topics you talked about and show that you have interest in that person and want to keep in touch. Try to think of them as a friend rather than a profile you were able to gain on your LinkedIn account.