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8 Networking Lessons That Will Be Invaluable for Your Career

Networking can be a great way to make valuable connections, find referrals, and discover more opportunities to grow as a student and budding entrepreneur. Bridge2Business previously explored one of the most important skills in business and life: good communication - and it can be honed through networking, whether it involves presenting on stage or attending an event.

Although networking can be daunting at first, there's plenty of wisdom to be gained that will help you down the road. Here are 8 networking lessons that will be invaluable for your career.

Planning ahead.

For starters, networking teaches the value of planning ahead. Inc Magazine shares that not only does this help calm the jitters people usually experience when interacting with new people; it can also help you be more poised going into an event. Seasoned networkers know that researching who they'll meet and how best to open conversations can spell the difference between success and failure. This is something you can carry with you whether you're meeting a potential business partner or setting up an elevator pitch.

Believing in yourself.

People can sense confidence or self-doubt from a mile away, not just in networking events, but also in conference rooms and executive offices, every single day. By practicing your networking skills, you build the confidence needed to face others and express yourself well. After all, Mel Sherwood previously discussed that no matter who you are and where you come from, believing in yourself is the first step to giving your best to the world.

Giving more than what you take.

Although networking events may sometimes be marketed as a means to gain something, one of the best lessons you learn is that giving goes a long way in business, too.Menlo Coaching emphasises the importance of giving, and up-and-coming entrepreneurs must also focus on what they can do for others. In this way, you can build better mutual relationships based on respect and trust, which will prove to be invaluable in the long run.

Passion can be infectious.

Just because you will be discussing business matters doesn't mean you can't be personable and animated. Seasoned networkers know that talking about something that inspires you can quickly get others to be interested and open up to you. As a leader, you'll also find that sharing your passion and focusing on values over numbers or data can help you motivate others and achieve your goals.

Never dismiss anyone.

Remember that there's always something more to people than meets the eye. Networking well teaches you to avoid discounting people due to titles or a seemingly unrelated industry. Good business practitioners make it their mission to get to know each and every person they talk to, and discover the value that these new connections hold outside of their rank.

Quality over quantity.

Twenty good business connections are better than a hundred acquaintances. Ivan Misner, dubbed the 'Father of Modern Networking', writesin an article for The Business Journals, "If your network is a mile wide and inch deep, it will never be successful. Instead, your network needs to be both wide and, in places, deep." Building strong relationships can turn simple contacts into great partners and connections.

Follow up and follow through.

Networking is where conversations begin, and they shouldn't end when the event does. Relationships take time to build, and follow ups in the first few days after an event aren't enough. Check in with your recently acquainted peers every once in a while to see how your connections are doing, instead of simply reaching out only when you need a favour.

Relationships are built on actions.

Last but not least, networking teaches you that relationships are built on actions, not promises. It's hard to trust someone who can't stay true to their word, especially when they seem to have a lot of them at the start of your relationship.

Networking can be a little scary at first, but that's nothing compared to the potential rewards you can gain. All it takes is practice, and you'll be able to apply these lessons in business and life in no time.

Article composed for bridge2business.org.uk
by ThriftyJ

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