My favorite way to see people improve their career is by effective networking. I’ve personally benefited from networking, but I’ve seen many other people benefit by networking too, so that’s why I’m such a fan!
1. Go often. Find a group that resonates with you and attend often. Look for groups that will satisfy you both professionally and personally. If you don’t attend often you won’t have the opportunity to really get to know people, so that’s why it’s important that you go every month.
2. Bring business cards. Business cards are a quick and easy way to share contact information. When you have nice looking cards with you, it shows you’re prepared.
3. Attend two groups. Don’t spread yourself too thin amongst different groups. Find two to attend regularly. I prefer that you find one group that fulfills your personal interests and separately another that is helpful and informative for business reasons. Over time you’ll find that business and personal blend together, but the group’s mission and reason may seem more interesting to different aspects of your life.
4. Plan ahead. Put meetings on your calendar and be clear with work colleagues that you’ll be out of the office. If you don’t plan, you’re planning to fail. Just schedule it! Work will always be there for you to do when you’re back in the office. But if you don’t work on developing professional relationships over time, you’ll regret it later.
5. Follow-up afterwards. Make sure to connect with people after the meeting to continue the relationship development process. Plan to send LinkedIn invites within 48 hours of meeting a new person.
In the end, just go! Networking and connecting with other people will make a huge difference in your professional and personal life.