“The fundamental element that defines the quality of your life is the people you surround yourself with, and the conversations you have with them.” – Unknown
There’s no doubt that knowing the right people can make the world of difference in your professional development. Whatever stage of your career you’re at, no one can argue the importance of having a strong network. Here are 5 top tips to strengthen your professional network with influential people.
1. Be a Giver
Add value to lives of influential people. Everyone is vying for the attention of influential people, asking favors, and the same questions time and again. This approach can work, but if you really want value from your professional relationships, you need to learn to be a giver. Ask yourself, what can you do for them? You increase your own luck so much as you contribute to theirs.
2. Play Matchmaker
Know two people who could benefit from meeting each other? Introduce them. As mentioned above, be a giver, contribute to other people’s success and they will in turn want to contribute to yours.
3. Call the Boss, Dodge the Secretary
Yes, you got to be brave. If there’s no other way you’re going to come into contact with this person socially, then you have to make it happen. One tip is to call their office before 8am, because chances are, their assistant isn’t in yet to screen the calls and the day hasn’t become too hectic.
4. Hack an Email Address
If you don’t have the address of the person you’re aiming to contact, one trick is to get hold of anyone’s email from within their organization so you can determine the format of their email address, eg if the address for the secretary is firstname.lastname@example.org you might want to try sending your email to email@example.com. Simple trick, not full proof, but could land your email in the right inbox. The next step is to obviously make sure you are sending the right type of email: short, not salesy, a strong subject line, and with a clear call to action.
5. Know When to Stop
Don’t impose yourself on people. Know when to lay off and give them space. If after calling and emailing twice, you receive no response, it doesn’t help to irritate them. This also includes knowing when to stop talking. Once a conversation is over, let it be. When you’re on the phone, wait for a lull in the conversation, and then say that you’re happy you’ve had the chance to speak and thank them for their time. In person, it’s also not necessary to drag things out. It’s always better to finish off a meeting feeling like there is still more you can talk about, than completely exhausting everything either of you has to say to each other.
With that being said… There are a number of other ways to develop your professional network, but there’s no harm in keeping it bite size, and improving your strategy one change at a time. For today, decide who you want to connect with, how you can benefit their success, and then make it your goal to connect. Until next time, here’s to successful networking! 😉