We have all heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” In my experience, I have been offered several jobs and presented with various opportunities because I knew someone. Networking is all about building relationships. Relationships are built on trust. There is a saying in sales, “People do business with whom they know, like and trust.” Be someone who others will seek to know, like and trust. The trust part will develop when you are authentic in your relationships, but what about the “know” and “like” part?
One of the most important aspects of successful networking is personal branding. This is a process in which you uncover what makes you special and unique in the marketplace. In today’s job economy, you must be able to differentiate yourself and exude an edge that will allow you to stand out from the rest.
Firstly, you must be yourself. Be confident in your strengths so that you may share them with others. Also, hone in on the areas you are most skilled at and allow your passions to be the point of reference where you will derive confidence.
“Be who you are, that is the first step to become better than you are.” Julie Charles Hare
Secondly, SMILE! I know, it sounds so simple and obvious but you would be surprised how far a smile will go. People are drawn to it and really, when you are excited about something, a subconscious response would be smiling- which leads me to my next point. Networking can be intimidating. Walking into an event full of strangers can be overwhelming however, allowing the excitement of walking into a room can lead to many possibilities and endless opportunities. Now, that is something to smile about.
With networking also comes professional etiquette. Etiquette is defined as the usages and rules for behavior in polite society, official or professional life. Manners, not just etiquette, are what the savvy person will portray. This is a culmination of courtesy, caring and common sense. Susan RoAne, best-selling author and keynote speaker says it best, “Good manners=Good business.”
In my research and interviews with professionals, I have found 4 things to be keynotes in professional etiquette.
Use correct grammar and enunciation of words. This will send a message about your attitude, education and abilities
Present the “best” image of yourself. A polished appearance says that you take pride in yourself and will also take pride in your work.
Familiarize yourself with email etiquette. Use appropriate salutations. Be concise. Keep emails short and to the point. Respond promptly.
Be on time. It is common courtesy to be on time. It shows respect that you value the other person’s agenda in which they are taking time out to meet with you.
Good manners and proper etiquette will ensure that you develop a positive reputation. After all, effective networking starts with branding yourself. First impressions are crucial when communicating in a business environment.
Lastly, I would like to give the readers a personal piece of advice derived from my experiences. In my humble opinion, when networking or interviewing, showcase yourself to be TEACHABLE. Yes, it is intimidating when you don’t know the answer to a question or how to do something you have been assigned to do. But I assure you, a person willing to be taught and molded in turn, will be the type of employee that employers will seek out. If there is a willingness to be taught, then there is room to grow. If there is room for growth, then there is a drive to succeed.
Therefore, go forth! Network with good manners and never close a door to opportunity because you never know where it could lead you.
This is a post by PRSSA Member Kristen Japowicz.
Follow her on Twitter- @K_Japowicz