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4 Do's and Don'ts to Help You Network

Updated: Mar 15, 2023

By: Rhobie Toussaint

Something that I’ve come to learn is that while what you know is important, who you know also goes a long way. The connections we make today, and the relationships we build over time can end up playing a significant role in future projects and endeavors.

Forming these strong, valuable connections often stem from networking. In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, networking is defined as “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions (specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business).” Essentially, networking involves putting yourself out there, engaging in conversation, and listening and sharing in order to forge those strong connections. Believe me, it works wonders. In fact, networking at an event I gave a small presentation in led me to securing one of my current jobs.

Now, I am no expert, but I did take some time to research and draw from my own experiences to create a short list of “do’s and don’ts” that you can use as you navigate building your own network.

Do: Go for It

You cannot network without talking to people, so try striking up a conversation. Initiative is crucial when trying to connect with others. Don’t be afraid to approach someone at a professional development, networking, and/or social event. As mentioned in this Entrepreneur article on networking, a simple "May I join you" or "What brings you to this event?" will do. It’s concise, and can help you feel less “weird” about approaching someone.

You never know what can come from a single conversation, so go for it! Although taking that initiative can be easier said than done, it would leave you with less missed opportunities.

Don’t: Be Inconsiderate

As important as it is to show initiative, you should also be mindful. Consider the time, place, and situation at hand. In other words, read the room. For example, if someone you want to speak to is in the middle of what appears to be an important, engaging conversation, the last thing you want to do is be that person who inserts themselves into said conversation and instantly starts talking about themselves.

Personally, I prefer 1:1 conversations, so I would try to connect with that person at a different time, or think about the most appropriate course of action.

Do: Listen

When networking, do not only talk about yourself. Part of (effective) networking is relationship building. Ask questions. Listen to the responses carefully and intently. Nod your head, gesture, or give other cues to show that you are absorbing the information someone else is sharing. Not only can it enhance your conversation, but you can also bring up something they talked about at a later time (i.e. “as you mentioned earlier…”). People like to know that they are being heard, so active listening is a key component in trying to get to know someone better.

Don’t: Forget To Follow Up

While the initial interaction you make with someone is important, it’s what you do after the interaction that will help dictate the value and longevity of the connection. Following up is so important and I cannot stress this enough.

As you meet professionals and different kinds of people, make sure to ask for their business cards or contact information so you can follow up with them later. This may look like an email that says something along the lines of “Good afternoon. It was great meeting you at x event. I enjoyed our conversation about x topic… I would love to have another conversation with you about x whenever you have time… Do you have any availability to speak within the next week or so?”

Within the follow up message, you want to ensure that there is something in the correspondence that will remind the recipient of who you are and the interaction you had with them.

While I have only mentioned a few tips for networking, there are plenty of other resources that are available to help you. Below are a few of them:

More Networking Resources

I hope this helps! As always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

Our handle on instagram is @yourbetterfour.

Note: Header Image from Paul Douillon

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