Networking is an important aspect of personal and professional development, but it can be easy to fall into the trap of solely focusing on expanding one's network or trying to sell a product/service. Before you sent out a private message to someone via your LinkedIn account, here are some tips on keeping on your intention in check when reaching out.
Is your approach a one-way street? The goal of networking should be to build meaningful relationships, not just to collect business cards or social media connections. Have you taken the time to get to know people and their interests, and be willing to offer support or help when needed?
If you're attending a professional event, it's important to strike a balance between being proactive and being overly pushy. Be respectful of people's boundaries, time, and interests. Try focusing on building relationships rather than trying to close a deal. I personally prefer to engage with a person with the mindset that I may invite this person for a social event or even to my home for a meal. Be sure to follow up like you would do with a friend. Be sincere and interested in their endeavors. Keep it simple: sending a friendly email to check on how they are doing or sharing relevant information or articles are some ways to continue the conversation you had at the event.
Networking is not just about talking, but also about listening. Take the time to understand other people's perspectives and interests, and show genuine interest in what they have to say. While it's important to have goals and objectives when networking, focusing solely on the transactional aspects of networking is off-putting. Instead, try to approach networking as a way to build authentic connections with people to build a community in your industry. Be ready to share and assist, but always be mindful of boundaries.
Remember all that networking is but forging genuine relationships with professionals that could potentially become a collaborator in your work journey. By focusing on building meaningful relationships we can avoid the commoditized approach of forging professional relationships!