1. Are you asking the right questions?

You may be attending all of the right networking events, but you are failing to ask the right questions. One key consideration is asking open-ended questions. If you ask too many yes/no questions, then your conversation could come to an awkward halt. Open-ended questions also show that you are genuinely concerned about the person and will move you beyond the “weather talk.”

Here are a few ideas:networking

  • How did you get your start in ___ business?
  • What advice can you give me to reach the level of success that you have now?
  • What changes have you seen take place in your profession through the years?
  • What can I do to make myself the perfect fit for your company?
  1. Are you networking the right way?

You may be thinking this is ridiculous; of course I am networking the right way. Well, lets re-evaluate your approach. I will highlight a few things to consider for your next networking event.

  • Do you have a plan? Make sure that you have done your homework so that you know exactly what strengths you are bringing to your networking event. Consider topics that you will talk about or how you may be able to help others.
  • Don’t be selfish! I am here for a networking event; of course I am going to be selfish. If this is your state of mind going into the event, then you may as well turn around and head for the parking lot. You will be more likely to stand out to the people you meet if you put their needs before your own.
  • Are you following up? Good for you! You were extremely selfless and offered your humble help to everyone. Your work is not done yet, don’t forget to follow up and follow through with what you promised. This will speak volumes for your character and that person will have a hard time forgetting you.
  1. Are you being persistent?

The trick here is to be persistent without being overly annoying. Don’t give up so soon that you may miss out on an opportunity that is looming right around the corner.

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” -Thomas Edison.

  1. You’re not using LinkedIn.

If you are not using LinkedIn to network, then you are making a huge mistake.

Here are a few things to consider:

Beef up your profile: Build a smart network of relevant contacts that have the potential to create opportunities for you.

It is YOUR choice: Remember, you do not need to accept an invitation to connect if you decide it is not right for you. You may consider building rapport with someone before inviting or accepting the invitation. This rapport may be built in person or by interacting on other social media such as Twitter or Facebook.

Make relevant posts: Try to post valuable information including articles or blogs that you find interesting. Encourage your connections to interact with your posts and create dialogue. Remember, when people like, comment, and share your post this is expanding your reach to their connections. You may also consider starting your own blog that links to your personal website or other social media. This will show your connections that you are an expert in your field and passionate about what you are doing.

-Mary Southern, M.Ed