Creating Collaboration through Networking

by Marta Countess

For most of us, the idea of introducing yourself to strangers isn’t all that appealing. Networking is work. Hard work!

Here’s the truth, developing a powerful network of collaborators, champions, and friends is at the core of growing a successful career or business. Putting in the hard work to build a strong network can offer greater credibility, visibility, and growth.

Don’t believe me? Here are five networking statistics worth a minute of your time:

  • 95% of professionals think in-person networking is crucial to maintaining business relationships. Source: Harvard Business Review
  • 70% of people report that networking helped them to find their current job. Source: PayScale
  • Networking is responsible for filling in 85% of job vacancies. Source: HubSpot
  • 7 out of 10 job openings aren’t publicly advertised. Source: CNBC
  • Nearly every second, freelancers find job opportunities through their family and friends. Source: Fit Small Business

At its core, business networking encourages connections not only with likely customers or clients but also with others who might refer business. It can also be a wonderful way of locating reputable vendors to hire.

So, let’s look at some tips on how to make networking work for you.

1. Attend networking events

Yes, you have to get out and mingle. Network Magazine events are a perfect example of private groups that connect people. The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber also hosts multiple monthly gatherings, many aimed at the diverse population it serves. It’s also worth researching and attending meetings for professional associations and societies related to your field.

2. Choose a goal

If you want your networking efforts to pay off, you need to be strategic. So set a goal before you go. Are you there to make new connections? Meet people in your field? Find a place or cause to volunteer your time? Be clear on what you hope to get out of the time you’re spending.

3. Refine your elevator pitch

Whether your goal is to connect with people in your field or build a referral network, you need to explain who you are and what you do in 30 seconds or less. Make it engaging so you open a conversation that allows you to explain more about what makes you stand out in your field.

4. Work on some icebreakers

Beginning a conversation is only easy if you’re a natural extrovert.    If people are wearing name tags, use them as a guide. Ask about their business and actively listen to the answer. If the name tags don’t guide you, consider opening with a compliment. If you’re listening closely, your next question should come out of their answer. Another pro tip, show up early. It’s much easier to approach people before they settle into groups.

5. Don’t be selfish

Whether chatting at an event or attending an informational meeting, it’s important to remember that networking is about give and take. If you’re always the person asking for favors, people will figure you out fast. Make sure you’re giving as much as you’re receiving and look for opportunities to help your networking contacts prosper.

6. Increase your visibility

Building a solid reputation can help you attract more career opportunities and business partnerships. Regularly attending networking events helps to make your face known to hundreds of people. Networking can help you meet industry experts you otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to meet.

Finally, let me leave you with a success story. We met the creators of Network Magazine a year or so after we launched our video marketing business. We’ve been regular magazine contributors and worked on business and charity opportunities together over the years. Our new project is the Network Magazine Executive Forum video series, which launches this month. The series aims to be a brief yet deep dive into the success stories and journeys of Lehigh Valley’s top business leaders and companies. It’s a partnership born out of networking, time spent building relationships, and meeting meaningful connections. Our first guest is City Center Investment Corporation President, J.B. Reilly, who, you guessed it, we met at Network Magazine’s very first magazine launch party!

We look forward to the series and seeing you all at a networking event soon.

Watch the 1st installment now by clicking here.

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