Networking has never become easier in the digital age with platforms like LinkedIn offering easy ways to connect with colleagues and future business contacts and numerous networking events in your city. The challenge can be to move casual connections to something more meaningful, possibly a future friend or coworker. Through the different stories we’ve gathered from mentors and business colleagues, we put together a four-step guide to help you avoid common pitfalls in networking and help you convert your loose connections to something more meaningful.
Do Your Homework
No matter if you’re interested in finding a new client or reaching out to an alum who has experience in a new city that you’re moving to, it’s best to do a little research on the person. First, confirm that they are interested in the product you’re selling, work in the industry you want to learn more about, or live in the city you’re moving to. You can also see if they have any recent news or updates that you can reference in your email or phone call. With LinkedIn and other social media platforms, you have access to public information that will show you’re prepared and did your homework.
Play to Your Strengths
You want to put your best foot forward. If you’re someone who enjoys talking face to face rather than emailing, send a quick note to your new contact to set up a time to for coffee. Or maybe you prefer writing down your points before you present them, then send a well-thought out email laying out all of your questions. You want to feel comfortable and relaxed in your first interaction so email alone can work but challenge yourself to progress to a phone call to discuss anything that you can’t cover in an email.
Follow-up and Deliver
After your meeting, send a follow-up email the next day or two to thank them for meeting and follow-up on anything you discussed. It shows you’re responsible and you were actively listening during their meeting. It might even help to take notes during your meeting if you don’t want to rely on memory alone. Your follow-up email will continue the conversation and offer the opportunity for future collaboration like a new job offer or new friend.
Pay it forward
As you gain experience and expand your network, remember where you first started. Our mentors on InstaViser platforms enjoy the process of helping other professionals advance in their career or work towards a goal. Keeping yourself open to new connections can also lead to new business opportunities. Get involved in your alumni network or company mentorship program, and you might realize that you can actually learn from teaching others.
If you’re wondering how to start looking for a mentor or setting up that initial meeting, we have you covered. If you’re looking to build your own mentorship network platform, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy National Mentoring month from InstaViser!