As uncomfortable as it can be to hear, the truth is that good grades and skills are not enough to enhance your career prospects. Believe it or not, learning to network well is just as important to your career.
Just think about how you got your first job. Some of you probably mass sent out 200 of your resumes hoping for at least 10 replies, but most of you would have likely gotten it through a friend or a relative. Through a connection.
If one of your "contacts" gave you that job "lobang", that's you experiencing first-hand the power of networking. Here are 4 networking rules that might give you a boost in how you network at work.
1. Learn to listen
It's been scientifically proven that not only do we love talking about ourselves, but we love oversharing too. When it comes to networking with others in your job, it might be a breeze for some people to waltz around a room during a networking session to share all about yourself, what job you're in, and of course, how great you are.
That pretty much guarantees any chance you had of leaving a good first impression. It doesn't mean you shouldn't talk about yourself, but it does mean that we should learn to listen more to what the other person has to say, and there you have it - an attempt at a productive two-way conversation that may just lead to building a long term connection that can benefit you both in your future career paths.
2. Only attend networking events related to your industry
Maybe you're an executive in a bank hoping to meet other professionals in the finance sector. You enter the event, only to realise that it's filled with people from the advertising industry - unless you have a keen interest in great copywriting, it will probably be a challenge to network effectively.
If you can’t really understand what the other person is saying because he works in an industry that’s completely unrelated to yours, there's no point in sticking around to try too hard to make a connection. Try to select events that are in line with your primary objective.
Whether you're looking to learn from more seasoned professionals, looking for new career prospects, or simply to meet new and interesting people who are in the same field of work as you are. Talk, listen and connect not just with other networkers, but also try to help fellow networkers connect to other networkers too.
3. Don't oversell yourself
Networking isn’t about saying “hello” to random strangers at an event and giving out your business cards as if you are a flyer distributer at an MRT station. Too many people go into networking events with the mentality that they should ‘sell’ themselves. When in fact, it’s about building relationships, and possibly friendship outside of work, with people who can help enhance your career through advice, partnerships, and potential job connections.
Networking should be about building genuine relationships with people, not about seeing everyone you meet as a possible business prospect that needs the product/service you’re hawking as part of your job responsibility.
For a start, stop trying to oversell yourself and start trying to have a real conversation. Be more proactive in asking people questions so they are comfortable enough to open up to you. And if you’re looking for a job, don’t blatantly ask for job offers. Talk a little bit about your skills and what you are good at in a job. The person you’re talking to might not need your skills yet, but he might down the road. You may also get referrals too if he happens to think of you when talking to someone else. This all hinges on leaving a good impression. And the best impression to leave is always one of your true self.
4. Don't forget to say thank you
Two simple words can make a world of difference when it comes to your career and whether people will have a good impressions of you - Thank You. It's a common courtesy that shows both respect, and gratitude, to the person you're talking to.
And it’s something you should definitely be doing often if you want to be a power networker when kickstarting your career. People appreciate when you remember them, and they’re more likely to remember you as well. This will pay off in the future.
After meeting someone, it’s always good to send that person an email, a text, or even a phone call to let the person know that you appreciated meeting them. By giving someone you met a follow-up thank you, it opens up not only doorways to building upon that initial relationship you created when you first spoke and exchanged business cards, but also building up trust.
A good tip on how to easily remember someone you just met at a networking event? Write down 1-2 memorable notes about that person on his/her name card after meeting them. It should be things that struck you most about that person while you were talking - personal bits of information such as hobbies, pets, or work related skills such as interesting job they've worked on or overseas experience. This will make it easier to recall someone you met, as well as give you something to ask about when you compose your thank you.