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My Seven Favorite Networking and Relationship Building Tips By Debora Finkler

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

I'm one of those who makes new friends everywhere I go and try to know someone to refer a friend in need. Because of that, I often get asked for my secret sauce when it comes to networking and building/maintaining relationships. These skills may not come naturally to everyone - in fact, “networking” may be one of the worst nightmares for introverts - but I am sure these seven tips can help anyone at some level. Ready for tips?



1 - Create networking goals

It's essential to keep your goal in mind when creating your network strategies. Your goal will define what type of person you'll prioritize networking with, what kind of events you should attend, social media interactions you should have, or how you'll present yourself, etc.

Take time to think about it.


2 – Prioritize your target audience

Once you know your goal, think about the people that could make a real difference or influence decisions related to the goal. For example, if the goal is a promotion or a specific job, think about who has influence in those decisions, or who has an area of expertise you need to get the job and could give you tips or mentor you, and so on.

Once you list all the possible people to connect, create a top 10 or top 5 list of people to focus on (or define what events to attend or groups to join that might help you find those people).




3 – Start the conversation

You have your targets. Now what? When you meet people, show interest in them. Find commonalities. Give them positive feedback. The ideal way to do this is to research your networking target to find interest areas/commonalities, which can be quite easy in the social media era. For events or groups where you don't know who you are meeting, the context itself is a commonality and can be a great conversation starter. Talk about what brought you there and ask the same, what you both do for a living, etc. One question I love to ask and always makes for fun conversation is: "what's exciting in your life right now?" People love talking about that as it instantly makes them feel good and proud and often creates opportunities for positive feedback.


Now, be careful here. A lot of questions may sound nosy or too personal, and the wrong compliment can sound flirty or inappropriate.


4 – Develop meaningful relationships

The best networking relationships are win-win ones. One-way networking never works. The perspectives you bring to conversations can be just as valuable to them as theirs are to you. It can feel like it is harder with people who are senior in their positions compared to you, but if you're good at creating those meaningful relationships, you'll be able to find your opportunities.


Examples:

  • I like offering my advice from my areas of expertise that may not be the same as my target's, offering them introductions to people in my network, or helping them boost their social media footprint by liking, commenting, or sharing their posts. Of course, the positive feedback comes in handy here too.

  • Or constructive feedback if your relationship is at that level of trust. (I'll write about giving feedback in another post, as this is a skill in itself.)


Just remember: the best compliments are direct, specific, and have good timing. If someone told me about a struggle, I would say how much I admire their strength in dealing with that problem. Direct, specific, and timely. (Not two weeks later when it is no longer relevant and can sound creepy as if you have been thinking of their struggle for two weeks.)



5 - Choose the right networking setting

As I mentioned, your goal will dictate what types of events or groups to join. Nowadays, a quick Google search can give you a comprehensive list of relevant opportunities. Depending on your goal, you can also look for opportunities within your context:


  • lunch with colleagues

  • volunteer opportunities

  • joining groups or associations SUCH AS THE WOMEN IN HEALTHCARE SECURITY NETWORK (wink wink)

  • frequenting places you know your target audience also like.

6 - Leverage social media

Social media can help you with all of the above. I love looking people up before introducing myself or finding people I met personally or virtually on LinkedIn and shooting them an invite with a quick note. I can then easily find opportunities to keep in touch, such as sending them happy birthday notes, congratulating them on achievements, engaging with their posts, etc. That is so important! You don't want to look like you reach out only when you need something.


A good note here: social media is also a great way to present yourself. Good content can bring you network opportunities, too. It is all about personal branding which is a whole other skill (click here to check out the recording of our webinar on this subject – hosted by our partners at ASIS San Francisco Bay Area Chapter).




7- Remember that what goes around comes around

In conclusion, I believe my secret sauce is:


I am genuinely interested in people, and I never pass up an opportunity to give positive feedback. And that plays a huge role in people's interest in collaborating with you, supporting you, advocating for you, etc.



So if you need to take only one thing away from this blog post, take this:

People often forget what you said, but never forget how you made them feel.



 

EOE/M/F/D/V/SO PPO-12867 CALBSIS License

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