5 Ways to Step Up Your Networking Skills
Think networking is just for entrepreneurs? Think again. In the virtual assistance industry where jobs come and go easily, it’s important to build a network of clients and fellow virtual assistants to get a semblance of job security.
But even though you understand that networking is important in your work as a virtual employee, it’s not that easy to translate this knowledge into actual networking skills. After all, networking can be a pretty daunting thing.
Don’t worry! We’ve got your back. To help you grow your professional circle, here are 5 ways to step up your networking skills.
Do your research.
Before going to an event to network, try to do prior research on who will be in attendance. Knowing something important about the attendees will make it easier for you to approach them and start a conversation. It also pays to follow blogs or social media profiles of those in your industry so you can make a connection anytime you see them at an event or conference.
Make sure your listening skills are on point.
Some people get too nervous when networking that they fail to actually listen to the person they are talking too. Because they’re thinking too much of what to say next, they barely absorb what the person is saying, so their responses become stilted or irrelevant. Don’t be like these people. It’s important to listen carefully to your conversation partner because they will know if your interest is genuine or if you’re just looking to add them to your list of contacts.
Don’t be self-centered.
This one is related to the previous point. Aside from listening to them, make sure that you ask about them as well. Don’t just go on and on about yourself and turn it into a one-sided conversation. Asking intelligent questions about them and getting to know them really well will make you and your interaction so much more memorable. You don’t want to be that obnoxious person who just talked himself or herself up the whole time right?
Take advantage of technology.
You don’t have to meet people in person in order to expand your network; there are so many effective and efficient ways to communicate these days that will allow you to do some networking without leaving the comforts of your home. Use your phone or email to get in touch with people and foster relationships with them. It’s pretty difficult to meet everyone in person, so take advantage of modern technology to network remotely as well.
Make it a point to follow up.
Having one nice, long chat with someone does not a lasting professional relationship make, so make it a habit to follow up on the people you meet. You don’t have to have an agenda to follow up. Simply asking about how they’re doing can help you ensure that the bridges you’ve built actually stay strong.
Networking can be difficult, but the benefits you reap from expanding your professional network far outweigh the hardships. Who knows? Those contacts you gain might even turn into lifelong friends. Happy networking!
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