The saying goes "it's not what you know, but who you know", and that's never been more true than now. Whether you're looking for a job or you just want to meet new people, networking is a key skill you'll have to learn — and even though the word "networking" can sound dirty by itself, here's a revolutionary approach to it: just make friends.
Photo by Ben Sutherland.
Forbes has a great list of techniques to use to connect with and network with any type of person, whether they're looking for a new professional connection or just someone you'd like to get to know better. Even so, the ones that really stood out to us are the simplest ones: just be genuine, and be helpful. After all, when you're talking to someone you'd like to work with, or someone you'd like to know better, it helps to actually be yourself, which is a point that gets lost often when career gurus talk about how important networking is to get an in at a new company, or get yourself noticed by hiring managers or executives. For example:
The only connections that work will be the ones that you truly care about; the world will see through anything short of that. If you don't have a genuine interest in the person with whom you're trying to connect, then stop trying.
On some level there'll always be an element of "what can this person do to help me," but that — like anything else — is also a two-way street. We've shared some networking tips for even the shy and for the skeptical, but none of them will work if you're not genuinely interested in forming a friendship with the person you're talking to. So instead of looking at your next office party or professional society meeting as an opportunity to schmooze, look at it as a way to make some new friends. You'll get much farther, and come away with more business cards.
Do you have any other networking tips? How do you make new friends and influence people? Share your suggestions in the comments below.