1) Know your goals
Set clear goals, then break them down into the smaller steps needed to achieve them. This will provide you with a much clearer action plan to help you determine what you need to know and learn, or who you actually need to meet if they do not currently exist in your network.
Even though networking is not limited to professional circles, it is also not simply “socializing”. Networking is the process of establishing a mutually beneficial relationship.
You are seeking something! And so is the person of the other end. Make your goals clear in order to have a meaningful exchange and get you one step closer to where you want to be.
I suggest creating a Networking Action Plan (NAP) which will help you break down your goals into short-term and long-term steps and brainstorm the steps to achieving each goal. You can access a sample NAP worksheet here.
2) Be authentic
We all put on a persona from time to time, but this should be avoided while networking. When you try to impress a new contact or put on a persona that you think they will like, you become anxious and even unlikable because the other person can see this lack of authenticity (seriously, it’s obvious).
Instead, be true to yourself, and genuine in your motivation for connecting with others. Don’t feel pressure to connect with certain individuals because you feel you “have to”.
For mutually beneficial relationships to work, transparency and authenticity is key. So be clear with what you want and who you are.
3) Diversify your networks
Who are you connecting with? What are their backgrounds? One of the most important keys to a strong network is diversity.
Think of it this way: Diverse organizations make better decisions than organizations that lack diversity. If we consider our networks to be similar to organizations and corporations, then we need this diversity to survive and thrive.
A diverse personal network also enables you to increase the possibility of including connectors, in your network. Connectors are people who cross over between multiple groups and can help you greatly expand your network.
Hint: you will find numerous “connectors” within the Paris for Her network ?
4) Practice generosity
Your network is only as strong as you and your efforts. Nourish it properly!
More (meaningful) relationships means more opportunities for your business or personal development and that of others.
Think of someone in your network that you can help or who has helped you in the past. In what ways can you can be generous to this contact?
5) Follow up
It’s important to learn how to follow up strategically.
The initial connection is only the beginning. Much like any relationship, business and professional relationships need to be nourished in order to grow.
Following up demonstrates your commitment and dependability in the relationship you’re growing.
Every contact is different but in general, be sure to make contact between 24-48 hours after meeting someone vis e-mail or LinkedIn. You could event send a hand-written note. You can also propose a face-to-face meeting over coffee or an event of shared interest.
About Keenya, our networking expert
Originally from the United States, Keenya spent 3 years working as a teaching fellow in New York City, before moving to Paris on a whim! She recently received her Master’s degree in Corporate Social Responsibility and is now working as a CSR analyst at Publicis Groupe where she collaborates on Diversity & Inclusion projects and sustainability reporting. Since her arrival in Paris, Keenya has helped individuals make connections daily as co-organizer of Black Entrepreneurs & Friends – Paris, and is passionate about sustainable development and meeting new people. She is currently learning how to code at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers and will soon be releasing her first e-book, 30-Day Connect.
Connect with Keenya here
Check Keenya’s next Events @ Paris for Her #acityforher here
A City for Her is an inclusive women’s networking community that brings together dynamic businesswomen, expats, women business travellers, locals, business owners, entrepreneurs, and motivated students from around the world. More than 5000 women are part of A City for Her community.