Networking is important

Happy New Year, everyone. I thought I’d open 2018 with one of my main tactics that will support my three objectives for the year.

One of the big things that I’ll be doing in 2018 is networking. It can be a bit frustrating, but there are some smart ways to go about it. This is important, even for authors, because you need to be a part of the industry in which you want to work.

In the dying weeks of 2017, I reached out to a few people around Melbourne and others from around Australia – some I knew and others I didn’t, but I have had good responses in both camps. People are often happy to help, within reason.

Here are my top three tips for networking in any industry:

1. Be strategic and specific in how you network.

Formal networking programs can be awesome, especially industry specific ones, but you need to go in there ready to work and to follow up. Have a good idea of what you are looking for, and be willing to say, ‘Nice to meet you, but I want to meet a few more people tonight.’

A week later, you’ll need to do a follow up email, reiterate why you want to connect with that person and suggest meeting for a coffee.

Don’t limit yourself to these organised situations. If there is someone from whom you want to learn, reach out and send them a professional email. Briefly explain how you heard of them and why you are reaching out. And, be reasonable in your requests: ie. ‘I’m interested in how you achieved xyz, would you mind if I sent through a few questions about your process/approach?’

Be prepared to be ignored, or to get a ‘no’. But if you develop a bit of a rapport, there’s nothing wrong with asking them to meet for a coffee for a bit more of a free-flowing conversation.

2. Reach out to existing connections

So many people ignore their existing network – but it should be one of the first places you start. Friends, family, current and former colleagues/bosses will all know people who might be able to provide advice or support on your journey.

A simple email saying, ‘Hi [friend/colleague]. I’m really excited to share that I’m going to try something new, I’d love to talk it through with you, could I buy you a coffee/wine next week?’

Be specific in your ask to existing contacts. If you want them to connect you to someone, say so.

3. Keep it appropriate

Should you be inviting that professional that you tracked down on LinkedIn out for a wine for your first meeting? Probably not.

If I’m catching up with a friend or colleague, and having a wine is a normal part of our life, I will often suggest coffee/tea or wine. But when I’m meeting someone for the first time, or it’s more of a professional relationship, I keep it to non-alcoholic beverages.

That may change over time, and that’s totally fine.

Keeping booze out of the mix also helps you to stay on track. So if you are having a wine with a closer connection, get your networking stuff out of the way early, before you descend into all the other exciting stuff going on in life!

Put these networking tips to the test and start reaching out to people. It’s an important part of life, work and study.

Enjoy your first weeks of 2018!