Networking has changed dramatically in the past decade. The rise of social sites like LinkedIn and webinar software has changed professional life forever.
The prevalence of online networking may mean that you need to brush up on your digital skills. You should be able to host engaging webinars and should know how to like, comment, and share your way toward business success.
That said, you still need to be able to mingle and mix at social events. Digital networking can get you a foot in the door, but taking advantage of the opportunities requires a confident mindset and the ability to speak confidently in public.
Public speaking makes the most self-assured people go weak in the knees. However, if you want to network successfully in today’s business climate, you need to be able to get up and speak confidently in front of a room full of people.
You can overcome your fear of public speaking by managing your expectations and practicing before the big day. Don’t over complicate your speech, and try to stick to key facts and statistics. When writing your script, treat your audience with respect but avoid acronyms and needlessly complicated jargon.
Manage your stress before the event by getting a good night’s sleep and drinking plenty of water on the day of the speech. A restful night will ensure that your energy is high during your delivery.
During your speech, look for friendly faces in the crowd and make eye contact with a few folks who seem invested in your speech.
The rise of remote work means that more public speaking events happen online. You can improve your digital presence by brushing up on your webinar skills before you host an online meeting.
Make sure you have a stable internet connection before visitors join your conference. When participants start to arrive, greet them with clear communication. Let them know when the webinar will begin and try to answer any quick questions they have.
During your webinar, stick to one major point per slide. Virtual participants can become confused quickly, so your presentation should guide them through your ideas. Choose colors and contrasts that are conscious of color-blind participants.
If possible, give participants a chance to contribute and mingle. You can utilize breakout rooms and easy tasks to keep engagement high and help folks network during your event.
Use social media to advertise your webinar and include clear links on posts so folks can easily join your virtual event.
Social Media Networking
Social media is the best way to make impressions and grow your network. Sites like LinkedIn and Twitter can help you discover trends in your industry on social media and connect with like-minded people from all over the world.
Networking on social media is about more than following industry leaders in your field. You can maximize your impact online by creating content that adds meaningful value to your followers’ lives. Consider producing social content like:
- “How To” video content
- “Insider Secrets” posts
- Key findings from field-related research
- Reposting/sharing colleague’s achievements
Posting useful content will boost your engagement rates and help you gain more followers. Try to post to your professional account a few times a week and be sure to respond to any comments or shares that you receive.
Be sure to modify your approach on each social platform. The content that you post to LinkedIn should be different from the content you post on TikTok. Follow similar pages to find out what content performs well on each platform and try to replicate these posts on your own page.
You can maximize your reach and engagement by interacting with similar accounts online. This shows social sites that you are an active user on their platform. Being active on a platform can boost your profile’s visibility and will help you land in more people’s “for you” pages.
Being able to hold a conversation is key to networking and professional success. Fortunately, holding your own in a conversation is a skill that can be developed — even if you’re introverted.
Practice your conversational skills in a safe environment first. Try to engage with your current peers and coworkers during the day and make light conversation. Find out about your colleagues’ interests and try to spend more time asking questions than talking about yourself.
If you find making conversation difficult, consider preparing a few questions to break the ice. Simple questions are your best friend when meeting new people and will lead to more interesting conversations. Consider asking:
- What got you into this field?
- What did you study at university?
- Are you from this city/state?
- What hobbies/interests do you have outside of work?
Preparing a few simple questions can help you keep your cool during awkward silences and raise your self-esteem over time.
Networking is all about seeming confident and calm — even if you are nervous and want to make a great first impression. You can improve your confidence and connect with new people by authentically raising your self-esteem.
Boost your self-esteem by setting achievable goals and repeating encouraging mantras throughout the day. Even simple goals, like walking or hiking a few times per week, can boost your self-esteem and help you see yourself in a more positive light.
If you’re still struggling to raise your self-esteem, consider finding a new community of friends and professional connections. Find supportive folks in your area who see the good in you and are supportive of your aspirations. Cultivating a positive community can boost your mental health and help you build resilience.
After a networking event, follow up with the connections you made. A quick follow-up can help you stand out in people’s memory and lead to future collaboration and partnerships.
If you want to leave a lasting impression, consider a small parting gift. Professional gifts like water bottles, mugs, pens, or wellness items are genuinely useful to other professionals and will make your personal brand more memorable.
Networking in today’s professional climate is tricky. You need to be social media savvy, but should also be able to hold your own in face-to-face conversations. Improve your chances of networking successfully by cultivating greater self-esteem and ordering a few follow-up items that you can offer to the folks you meet while networking.
This guest post was authored by Ainsley Lawrence
Ainsley Lawrence is a writer who loves to talk about how business and professionalism intersect with the personal, social, and technological needs of today. She is frequently lost in a good book.
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