In 2020, with nearly 610 Million professionals on LinkedIn, your networking opportunities are literally endless. This is great news, but it also means that SO. MANY. PEOPLE. are doing the exact same thing that you are. Now more than ever, following the rules of networking and being strategic is absolutely necessary. For now, there is less face time and will require more effort to utilize your existing connections.

Whether you’re a networking newbie or just need a refresher on best practices, here are a few rules of the road to keep in mind when interacting with members of your network:

  1. Just be yourself.
    How’s that saying go? “Be yourself because everyone else is already taken.” This statement couldn’t ring more true when it comes to networking. The most meaningful networking relationships are formed when both parties are being themselves and being genuine. This goes a long way when you’re gradually building rapport and trust with others, whether it’s happening in person or virtually.
  2. Do your research.
    Make sure you are prepared before doing any kind of outreach to members of your network. If you are planning on attending an event(post-COVID-19), do your best to find out who will be attending the event. Once you have your list, narrow it down and determine a small group of people that you are most interested in meeting with. Then make sure you are prepared for your interactions with them. With the current status of large gatherings and in-person events, make sure to maximize the resources that are available to you: LinkedIn, Corporate websites, other forms of social media….. etc. People will always be impressed when you know what you are talking about and are able to have an intelligent conversation!
  3. Help others whenever you can.
    Of course, you are networking to help yourself get ahead, but remember that your connections are working hard to do the exact same thing. Networking is a two-way street. If you are approached by someone and are able to help them make a meaningful connection, share an open position, or help them out in any way – DO IT! You won’t regret it. You must be willing to help others just as you want to be helped. Making these meaningful connections and helping others will build trust and solid relationships long into the future.
  4. Always be respectful and appreciative.
    Treating people with respect is the only way to go! Go out of your way to show people respect for their time, the people they may connect you with, and any ideas or suggestions they share with you. The same goes for individuals that reach out to you. You never know who they know… so always be on your best behavior.
  5. Schedule time to follow Up! Remember to follow up within a few days of any interaction. Sending a thank-you email will go a long way. If you made any commitments to make an introduction, give a recommendation, send along information… or anything else, remember to follow through on them. If not, it’s always good practice to reach out, just to check in and keep in touch.

We hope these tips help you get started with some successful networking. Keep in mind that referrals and opportunities don’t just appear overnight. This process can take weeks, months, or even longer. They say your network is your net worth, so make sure your list is always growing.

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