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Whether you’re just starting your career, or you’re a successful professional with years of experience, networking plays a critically important role in personal growth and business success. Unfortunately though, many people are making the mistake of either ignoring networking altogether, or using outdated techniques and practices.
5 tips for networking in the modern age
Over the past 10 years, networking has changed significantly. No longer does it simply involve attending formal conferences and having lunch with prospective customers. In 2016 and beyond, modern networking takes a much more technological and progressive approach
Here are a few tips we think you may find helpful.
You need a purpose
Are you networking just for the sake of networking, or do you have an actual purpose? “One of the biggest mistakes people make is networking without a purpose,” marketing expert Kevin Hurley points out.
“Whether you’re looking for a job or a co-founder for your new business, you must outline your goals clearly. There’s nothing modern about this tip, but without it, your efforts are like shooting darts into a black hole.”
In order to direct your networking efforts, make sure you have a defined goal. Yes, actually spend time thinking about your purpose and then write it down in a goal format that allows you to regularly reflect on your progress.
Branded content is a must
In 2016, your digital presence is everything. We’ll discuss social media in the next section, but for starters you need to attach some content to your name. Content is what gets shared and builds name recognition in your industry. Without it, you don’t stand a chance.
Start by launching a blog. You can do this relatively quickly and it’ll pay dividends almost immediately.
Next, start developing relationships with other bloggers and journalists. This will allow you to expand your network by tapping into their audiences.
Refine your social presence
Now we can discuss your social media presence. The first step is to clean up any existing profiles you already have. Embarrassing pictures on your Facebook page? Delete them. Controversial posts on Twitter? Scrub them clean. Outdated information? Immediately correct it.
Your social media profiles tell others a lot about you. Make sure you’re putting forth a positive image.
The second step is to start positioning yourself as an expert in your industry. This means sharing your published content, engaging with other industry experts, and responding to their posts.
The more you put yourself out there, the more recognizable you’ll become.
Join industry groups and forums
There are plenty of opportunities to network online. The key is to identify a few quality opportunities and fully invest yourself in them. Start off by joining industry groups and forums.
While the internet is incredibly large, you can enhance your reputation by focusing in on small sub segments and niches. You’ll be surprised by just how small the internet can feel when you have a couple of hubs that you’re constantly connected to.
Master the follow up
The biggest mistake you can make after initially interacting with someone and sharing contact details is to fail to initiate action. The follow up is very important and is something you need to master sooner rather than later.
The easiest way to follow up with someone — whether you met them online or in person — is to send a short email within 12-36 hours after the original interaction. Simply tell them how great it was to meet and let them know that you’d love to speak again.
In order to be successful in the coming months and years, you must modernize your approach to networking. Trade in the cold calls for social media and start approaching networking with a little more vigor and enthusiasm. We think you’ll like the results.