Isabel Sachs, self-confessed “real-life LinkedIn”, tells us her best networking tips for professionals.
When I was younger, I used to call myself a real-life LinkedIn. I was constantly introducing different groups of people to one another, playing matchmaking and going from dingy rock clubs to the orchestra on the same week. So, when it came to my career, I approached the whole networking in a similar style; being curious about too many things and trying to be at many different palaces to figure out my space. After over 15 years working in the creative industry and having now set up a platform called, I LIKE NETWORKING, I have distilled some of my learning onto tops tips for anyone who cringes at the thought of networking.
One of Merriam Webster’s definition of it is “a usually informally interconnected group or association of persons (such as friends or professional colleagues).” I find that to be a pretty good description and love the fact that it includes both informal contacts and friends. Your first network is your friends and family. You should ideally approach all of your networking experiences with the same curiosity that you’d have when starting a new friendship. We connect with people, not job roles. Authentic interactions tend to lead to authentic relationships and that does not mean that you need to overshare, but simply approach meeting new people with a similar lens that you would if you’d like to meet a new friend. An e-mail or message that shows your personality can go a long way.
With that said, here are some actionable tips to get you going
It’s great to have loads of contacts and, especially on LinkedIn, it can be easy to add as many people as possible just for the sake of it. But then you might end up missing interesting posts and updates and seeing things that don’t apply to your career. When it comes to networking, it is good to know WHY you’re doing it for. Is it to get a job? Do you want to exchange skills? Define your ask ahead of time and then go and look out for the people who would make the most sense.
URL NETWORKING CAN BE EASIER AND MORE EFFECTIVE
It’s what we’re all doing in this pandemic… but even when in-real-life events are back, online networking is great. First, you define the narrative when you build your profile on Instagram, The Dots, LinkedIn or beyond. Make sure that your online profile is always a good sample of who you are. When you send someone a message online these are the worst-case scenarios:
- They don’t respond.
- They say no, sorry, can’t help, not interested
THAT’S IT. Brace for rejection and understand that people might be dealing with their own issues and it’s not a personal attack on you.
APPROACH IT WITH CURIOSITY
One of the best ways to approach networking is to be actually curious about people. Does that person seem like someone you’d like to be friends with and learn more about their lives?
If you get too stuck in your head about asking people for help/contacts, flip it on its head. Why not write a post about what YOU could help people with? Can you be a guest on a podcast? Those are great ideas to share your expertise and expand your network.
Finally, make sure that you keep the conversation going and that you are also adding value to your network. It should always be seen as a two-way relationship. Find your style, be authentic and curious – then you can’t go wrong!