The Social Network: top tips for networking in the US

Ask open-ended questions, be curious, and most importantly listen to the response

Facebook: social media engagement should be part of the work day.  Photograph:  REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Facebook: social media engagement should be part of the work day. Photograph: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

 

1Be prepared: While networking events are supposed to be more informal than other business activities, this is not an excuse to drop the ball. Find out who will be there and do some research. Everybody loves talking about themselves. So make it easy for them.

2 Ask good questions: According to Margaret Molloy, it is important to choose one’s words carefully. “Ask open-ended questions when you meet new people,” she says.

“Be curious and present in the moment and, most importantly, listen to the response. The very best questions will deliver useful learning, insight and knowledge. Don’t fill silence with more questions. Allow those you are questioning the time to deliver a thoughtful response.”

3 The follow-up: The benefits of networking are often not realized until well after the first time you make a new connection. “Diligent follow-up will set you apart and empower you to reap long-term rewards,” says Molloy. “Connect on LinkedIn and follow on Twitter. If you said you’d send more information or make an introduction, keep your promise.”

4Be visible and generous with social media: Molloy strongly advises the use of tools like Twitter lists and LinkedIn Contacts app to stay connected. According to her, social media engagement should be part of the work day.

As your network grows, managing it correctly is crucial. “An active and vibrant network requires attention and work,” she says.

5Avoid professional networkers: While some professional networkers are legit, many others may have not developed the network they claim to have the old-fashioned way, that is, by actually taking the time to meet and gain the trust of the contact in question. Therefore, any association with a network professional may work against you.

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