The 8 Best Networking Tips and Tricks

As Porter Gele famously said, “your network is your net worth.” Nowadays, having a strong network is more important than ever. Not only can networking help you build a strong base of connections, but it can also open up opportunities in life that you never even knew existed.

  • You could find a new job due to a connection of a connection.
  • You could come across a cool opportunity to travel the world and go on group trips.
  • You could meet some cool people and potentially even meet your soul mate.

However, networking can be tough when you don't know what you're doing. After all, networking events and conferences are often full of highly unapproachable people. Plus, there's a lot more to networking than just attending certain events.

How do you reach out to people? How should you prepare for potential coffee chats? How should you follow up with people? This post will answer those questions and share 8 of the best networking tips and tricks. On top of that, it will also answer a couple of frequently asked questions regarding networking. Let's get right into it.

8 of the Best Networking Tips and Tricks

Here are some of the most effective networking tips to help get you started on your networking journey. Follow these tips and you'll have a full network of contacts in no time.

Reach Out to Everyone

A lot of people think that business-networking and career networking involves reaching out to the right people and being careful about who you contact. In reality, quantity often trumps quality in the world of networking.

The first of the networking tips to keep in mind is to reach out to everyone. By doing this, you build your book of contacts and also open up the possibility that one of the people you know may know someone else that could help you out.

Some common ways to reach out to people are:

  • LinkedIn – Everybody knows of this professional and business-oriented online service. Reaching out to people on LinkedIn can be extremely effective if you craft the right message. Most of my personal networking success has come from LinkedIn outreaches.
  • Networking Groups – There are plenty of in-person and online networking groups that exist for the sole reason of connecting people with each other. Joining one of these groups can be beneficial for anybody that likes some more personal connections.
  • Referrals – Whenever you chat with someone, ask to see if they can refer you to somebody else who'd be good to chat with. Keep on doing this and you'll find that soon enough, you'll be speaking with a lot of different people.

Reaching out to as many people as possible is a sure-fire way to open up the top of your outreach funnel and potentially land you more coffee chats and phone calls.

Know Your Person Before You Know Your Person

Reaching out to lots of people will help you secure phone calls and coffee chats, but how should you go about preparing for the actual interaction itself?

One of the best ways to do so is to “know your person before you know your person.” What this means is that you'll want to have a good understanding of what you're person does and their accomplishments/field of work before you even chat with them. Some questions you should try to answer are:

  • What does this person do?
  • Which industry does this person work in?
  • What are some of this person's interests?

Getting to know your person involves doing lots of research beforehand. Thankfully, the internet has made digging up information easier than ever. If you reached out to this connection on LinkedIn, a lot of good information about them will be readily available (including where they work, where they went to school, and some of their interests).

If they aren't active on LinkedIn, try running their name through Google. You might be surprised at just how much information you can get online.

Know What You're Talking About

Most people who network just skim through LinkedIn for a couple of minutes to prepare for their interactions. Though LinkedIn does provide a great background and overview of the person you'll be speaking with, to really stand out, you'll want to take it a step further.

Take some time to dive in and research the industry that this person is working in and also learn a bit more about their interests. This will help to create a more meaningful conversation and also impress the person you're chatting with.

Find Common Ground / Common Interests

Too many times, a networking phone call / coffee chat turns into something that resembles a one-sided interview. Someon has their list of questions prepared and just started rattling them off one by one. Each answer is followed by some variation of “oh I see” or “that's interesting” or “that makes sense” before the next question is asked.

Needless to say, this is not effective networking. You'll likely leave a bad (or no) impression on the person you chatted with and they'll forget you within a week. To actually connect with someone, you have to be willing to share a little bit about yourself and try to seek some common ground or common interests.

Treat each networking meetup less like an interview and more like a conversation. After all, there is a reason why the person you're chatting with agreed to chat with you in the first place: they want to know about you as well.

Also, finding common ground can open up doors that you never even knew existed. Maybe you're doing some professional networking, but reveal a hobby that you do on the side. There's a chance that the person you're chatting with is also into that same hobby and you've gained a new friend who shares a similar interest as you. In another scenario, maybe the person is really interested about this one particular idea you have floating around in your mind and wants to partner with you on it or even fund your business.

One of the often overlooked benefits of networking is that each additional person you meet adds to your potential opportunities exponentially.

Be Curious

On a similar vein of thought, it's important to constantly stay curious when networking with people. It's easy for people to tell when you're just trying to build your book of contacts or perform a job-search: all your reactions are superficial and you're not genuinely interested in what the other person has to say.

If you're able to make yourself curious about what the other person has to say, you'll perform much more successful networking. Not only will the meetup be mutually-beneficial, but you'll also learn a lot more from each other.

At the end of the day, to network is really to connect with another person, and you'll have a much better time connecting with someone else when you're interested in what they have to say. Networking isn't about delivering an elevator-pitch that you had memorized all along, but rather about building relationships and meeting like minded people. If you're genuinely curious when you meet people, you'll find that no matter how much of an introvert or how shy you are, you'll be able to get a lot out of networking.

Do Something For Them

Exchanging business cards is classic, but at the end of the day, nobody ever really looks at the business cards they receive. If you want to make a lasting impression on someone, do something for them. This can include:

  • Paying for their coffee if you decide to do a coffee chat.
  • Offering to take them out for an event that you both like (a golf round, a game of basketball, a concert).
  • Getting them a personalized gift.

So many people just exchange business cards with new contacts and call it a day. To truly harness the power of networking, get something cool for your connection. They'll remember you for a while and you'll seriously strengthen your networking relationships.

Send a Thank You Note

One of the best ways to get someone to remember you long after you've connected with them is to send a quick thank you note after meeting. It's such a simple thing to do yet so many people forget to do so.

If you remember to send a thank you note, people will remember you as the polite individual who took the time to actually express gratitude. You'll build great rapport for yourself and potentially even be introduced to new connections.

As previously mentioned in this post, good networking is all about relationships. Any good etiquette you employ will pay you dividends in the future in terms of helping you achieve your career goals, getting you job leads, and allowing you to grow professionally.

Stay in Touch

Regardless of whether you just met someone at a networking event or you just had a conversation with a colleague who you've never spoke with before, it's important that you stay in touch in order to cultivate and maintain your network.

You could have the best networking skills in the world, meet someone new everyday, build your network faster than everyone else, and try all the networking techniques, but if all your conversations are one-and-done, you won't have success keeping the acquaintances you make.

Those that have the biggest network of professional contacts know that you have to reconnect with your network periodically if you want to actually maintain and grow relationships.

Grow Your Network Exponentially

Best Networking Tips and Tricks
Best Networking Tips and Tricks

Now that you have a couple tips and tricks for how to network, all that's left to do is to seek out some networking opportunities and apply what you know. Expand your network large enough and you'll find that it starts to grow all by itself. You won't need to worry about the right networking strategy or networking plan anymore because you'll be getting so many referrals that you won't even have time for everyone.

Sooner or later, your network will prove highly valuable to you. Maybe you'll start a new business with one of your contacts, maybe you'll be able to reach out to one of them for a job, or maybe you'll find a mentor to help guide you. Whatever the case, you'll soon realize that it isn't what you know that will get you far in life, but rather who you know.

Jeff is a current Harvard student and author of the blog Financial Pupil who is passionate about learning, living, and sharing all things personal finance-related. He has experience working in the financial industry and enjoys the pursuit of financial freedom. Outside of blogging, he loves to cook, read, and golf in his spare time.