You know that age-old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? It continues to ring true today.
What you know is important. You aren’t going to be able to “fake it ’til you make it” for your entire career. But in order to experience career development, you’ll need to take advantage of all the networking opportunities available to you.
Professional networking is going to be a piece of cake for some people. If you have an extroverted personality, you aren’t going to have any issues attending networking events and finding other ways to network.
But if you have more of an introverted personality or simply don’t love networking, you might end up stunting your career advancement. You may even find that you won’t be able to go down certain career paths in spite of what you know because you won’t know the right people.
We’ve compiled a list of the do’s and don’ts of professional networking to help you make the most of networking opportunities. Take a look at them below.
Do: Seek the Right Networking Opportunities
If professional networking isn’t something that always comes natural to you, you’ll need to find the right opportunities to do it. You’ll increase your chances of being able to network successfully by attending trade shows, business conferences, etc.
You can also become better at networking by agreeing to take meetings with those who request them with you. The more of these meetings you agree to go to, the better your chances of networking with people within your industry.
Don’t: Come on Too Aggressive When Networking
Far too often, people make the mistake of coming on way too strong when they’re doing professional networking. They’ll talk someone’s ear off who isn’t interested in talking to them simply because they have their attention and think that’s what they should do.
You don’t need to tell your whole life story to every single person you cross paths with while networking. Instead, you should exchange pleasantries with as many people as you can and talk further with those you’re interested in as well as those who seem interested in speaking with you.
Do: Network With People You Have Things in Common With
The best way to make professional networking feel natural is by doing it with people you have things in common with. If, for example, you see someone wearing the hat of your favorite MLB team, you’ll find that it’ll be very easy to chat with them for a few minutes.
Likewise, you’re also going to have an easy time talking to those who are on your same level. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t ever shoot for the stars and strike up a conversation with the CEO from another company. But for the most part, you’ll want to stick to talking to those who have job titles similar to yours.
Don’t: Try to Network With Every Single Person You Meet
Those people who aren’t great networkers will sometimes think they need to try networking with everyone at any event. Doing this is going to make it look like you’re trying way too hard to network.
As we alluded to earlier, there isn’t anything wrong with saying, “Hello,” to as many people as you can at a networking event. But if you’re jumping from one conversation to the next, you might come across as being a little too thirsty.
Your best bet will be to pick and choose which networking opportunities you want to use to your advantage. By limiting the number of people you talk to, you’ll be able to have more meaningful conversations with them.
Do: Join Organizations That’ll Make Networking Natural
If the idea of attending professional networking events sends shivers up your spine, there are other ways to network. For instance, you can join an organization like the Honor Society that’ll surround you with people that you will want to network with both online and in person.
You shouldn’t underestimate the importance of joining organizations like this. Doing it might be even more effective than attending every networking event you possibly can over the course of a year.
Don’t: Forget to Pass Out Business Cards
Because it’s 2023, there are some people out there who have lost faith in the trusty business card. They don’t think they’ll need to pass out business cards anymore when doing professional networking.
But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Believe it or not, there are 27 million business cards printed every single day—and for good reason!
Business cards are still some of the most effective personal branding materials available. The simple act of passing business cards out will help people to remember your name and allow them to contact you whenever they want.
You shouldn’t be shy about having short conversations with people at professional networking events before saying, “Great to meet you, here’s my card!” It could work wonders for your career.
Use These Tips for Professional Networking Purposes
You might not love the idea of doing professional networking all the time. But because “who you know” is important in the professional world, you should try to network as often as you can.
Utilize the tips found here to start networking more effectively with those in your industry. It shouldn’t be too long before you’re making lasting connections and moving up within your profession.
Would you like to get your hands on more tips that will help your career? Find them in some of the other articles posted on our blog.