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News | Network like a boss

54727674 - african businesswoman and businessman sitting at a small table in a busy modern cafe, discussing ideas over coffeeWhen it comes to your career, whether it’s a corporate job or owning your own business, it’s very important to build a network of people you can turn to for advice, help, and career or business opportunities. Building such a network takes time, and some of us are often too shy to just go up to people and speak to them.

The truth is that with a little bit of planning, anyone can do it, so take a deep breath and have a look at our 6 tips on how to become a networking ninja:

It’s about relationships
An important thing to remember about networking is that it is first and foremost about building relationships, the business side of things will come later. And as with most relationships it’s better to build small number of quality relationships than a big number of fleeting ones.

Set goals
A critical question to ask yourself is what you want to gain out of a networking opportunity. Is it to share ideas, learn about a new product or field, or land an interesting and exciting job? When you know what you want, then it’s easier to connect with the right people and ask the right questions.

Good impressions
Remember to be yourself. There’s no point in pretending to be someone you’re not, especially when you’re trying to build lasting relationships. Be positive and upbeat but don’t overdo it. The more down to earth you are, the more likely it is for people to want to connect with you.

Talk to people
Networking is about talking to people. If talking to people scares you a little, practice by talking to as many people as possible. From the person working at the till at the supermarket to the petrol attendant, the bank teller, or even the taxi driver, the more people you talk to, the easier it will get. When you’re more confident about talking to people, try to spot opportunities to talk to people who fit into your networking goals.

Listen
In the same way that it’s important to talk to people, it’s as important, if not more, to listen and listen carefully. When you listen to someone speak, focus on what they’re saying instead of thinking about a response. This will not only show them that you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say, but will also enable you to ask better questions and get more out of the conversation. Ask people about their problems and needs and try to identify an area where you can help solve their problems or fulfil their needs.

Follow up
Arguably the most important part of networking happens after you meet people, and that is to follow up. When you get someone’s contact details, make sure you drop them an email with yours as soon as you can. If you spoke to someone about a particular opportunity, follow up on it, and if they tell you to stay in touch, do just that, but be careful not to hassle them.

It’s important to remember that opportunities can come from the strangest places, and when you least expect it, so keep an open mind, and get out there and talk to people.

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