Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The nuts and bolts of networking

Though networking styles can vary depending on someone’s personality and style, there are several important components of successful networking.

In our previous networking blog, networking was defined as a two-way relationship, so one of the biggest networking don’ts is to view the other person as a mere asset to you. In Upstart Business Journal’s article, Founder and President of Come Recommended, Heather Huhman, said some people forget that networking is a mutually beneficial relationship.

“Think about how your skills and expertise might be useful to your networking contacts and give, give, give before asking for something in return,” she said.

To network successfully, you have to put yourself out there but remain professional and poised. Though confidence is important, arrogance can make you seem insincere. Devon Bull, president of KU Entrepreneurship Club, said it’s important to balance confidence with professionalism.

“Don’t be overly aggressive,” Bull said. “Most people don’t know they’re being overly aggressive. There’s a point of being confident and then there’s a point of grabbing someone when they’re mid-conversation with someone else.”

It’s important to remember to follow up with other professionals promptly. Not only does it send a signal that you valued your conversation with him or her, but it increases the likelihood that they’ll remember you. Foster Casterline, president of ISAK, said if you make a good connection with someone, it is important to follow up immediately.

“If it’s somebody that there’s potential to have a professional relationship with, you’ll know by the end of your initial conversation what the next steps are going to be,” Casterline said.

Because networking is based on relationships, it is important to maintain the relationships you build through events and coffee. Jennifer Jordan, director of the Business Career Services Center, said she likes to keep track of her network electronically.

“If I collect a business card, I’m going to try to go straight to LinkedIn and connect with that person electronically so that I have pulled them into my network,” she said. “That’s how I personally organize my network.”

This is the second in a four-part series about networking. Check back for blogs about how to follow up after an event and when and where to network.

by Allison Kite