Networking is an essential aspect of today’s job search. In fact, 80 percent of today’s jobs are landed through networking.
A lot of times though, we automatically insert the word “social” before networking. We are so used to social networking that we have started to forget how powerful networking can be when you take it offline. Networking in real life can be intimidating, but it is really powerful.
Here are 10 offline networking tips:
1. Attend networking events
If you’re unsure where to start, go somewhere you know will have lots of people from your industry. Join professional organizations and actually go to their networking events. They happen fairly frequently and are always filled with a variety of people. Take advantage of networking events to expand your network and practice your networking skills.
2. Do research
Before you enter into any kind of networking scenario, be sure to research the participants. For networking events, determine who the speakers will be and who else will attend. Figure out who you want to talk to and learn a little about them. Be well-informed so you can have good conversations.
3. Bring business cards
Always carry business cards. You never know when you’ll need to provide someone with your contact information, and the best way to do that is to have it on hand and ready to go. Today’s business cards should include your name, profession, phone number, email, and social media links.
4. Make the first move
Most people get nervous about networking situations. Be the confident one in the room who initiates conversations. The people you talk to will feel at ease because you stepped up. Even if you’re actually nervous, nobody will be able to tell if you act like you aren’t.
5. Ask questions
People love to talk about themselves. Ask lots of questions to encourage this. People usually feel more comfortable answering questions than struggling to come up with things to talk about. Make people feel comfortable by asking them about their job, their college, or whatever else you can come up with.
6. Actually listen
The worst thing you can do when you’re networking offline is to tune out when someone is talking to you. You come off as extremely rude and you don’t learn anything new. You might have missed a valuable piece of information and you’ve just lost a connection. Build strong a strong network by listening.
7. Be helpful
Networking is not all about taking what you can get. It’s a two-way street where other people want valuable relationships from you as well. Instead of only seeking out people who can help you, look for ways to help other people. Connect them with others, help them solve problems, and offer insight. Networking should be about mutually beneficial relationships.
8. Tell stories
Even though it’s important to be helpful, it’s also important to talk about yourself a little. When you do this, you should tell interesting stories about the cool things you’ve done in your profession. Telling a good story makes you memorable and will make people want to know you.
9. Make introductions
Another way to build your network is to introduce your connections to each other. This shows people you care about their best interests—plus they’ll know you care because you set them up with valuable new relationships.
Whenever you’re at awkward networking events, it’s important to not let your discomfort show. Nobody wants to approach the person in the corner who looks miserable. People want to talk to the person who is smiling, laughing, and clearly enjoying the event. A smile gets you easily noticed in offline networking situations.
Social networking is great, but it’s important to remember the power of offline networking. Nothing can replace the value of the in-person conversation.