Four ways to perfect the art of networking

Four ways to perfect the art of networking

Let’s be honest…You either get networking, or you don’t.

Now before you think that I’m being crass, hear me out.

Networking isn’t as easy as just talking to someone about the weather or who won the Monday Night Football game. It takes practice. Believe it or not, you need to hone your networking craft.

Whether you are a public relations professional, marketing maven or seasoned journalist, we can all get better at networking. And with social media being one of the primary ways to get in touch with people these days, it’s integral for your networking skills to be razor sharp.

Here are a few networking tips that have worked for me over the years as a public relations professional and a member of the media:

1. Don’t do “blast networking.”

You most likely will be a bit limited in the time you have with potential influencers and interview topics. Be focused. The goal should be to connect with those who can recognize your value, talent, interests, background and qualities. That doesn’t mean that you should be just focus on, say, two people. But, identify those people who can help you reach a goal.

2. It doesn’t always have to happen online.

My college years and first few post-college years were spent prior to the explosion of the internet. We needed to have meaningful in-person conversations. Those types of situations are still very important to building relationships. As much as I enjoy social media and what it has done for my business, I still greatly value meeting someone in person, whether it’s over coffee, lunch or a happy hour. While social media can set the foundation, in person collaboration can build the structure. This works in business and in life.

3. Be real.

We’ve all seen that person that looks like they have it all together. Then, you meet them in person and it’s all a charade. What are the chances you’ll want to work with that person or consider doing business with them? Probably zero. The better you are at being honest, open and transparent in your networking, the better the chances that you succeed. Now, being real doesn’t mean being a jerk. It means that being honest with a reporter or blogger will go a long way to ensuring a better relationship. The same goes with social media. You don’t need to be someone you aren’t on Twitter or Facebook. Show people who you are and you’ll find that the real and honest route is a smoother one.

4. Be encouraging. 

Sometimes this important last point can get lost today. Being encouraging doesn’t mean be a cheerleader. But, you can still celebrate and acknowledge successes. It can be very empowering to people, as well as showing you as a person who cares not just about your own success, but others.

What do you think? Share other networking tips (both online and off!) in the comments below.

Jason Mollica is the president of JRMComm, a public relations and social media marketing consultancy, located in a suburb of Buffalo, N.Y. He combines knowledge of the broadcast news industry, traditional public relations expertise, and today’s new and innovative social media tools to assist client in maximizing their full potential. Follow him on Twitter and check out his blog.

Photo: Shaking hands via Shutterstock

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