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Networking is the best way to get ahead in just about any industry, but only if you know how to go about it. If you think your networking game needs a little work, consider these helpful tips.

 

Set Goals

You should have some kind of goal in mind whenever you go to a networking event. This goal could be to speak to the owner of a particular business, or it could be to not leave until you get at least five business cards. In any event, setting a goal is far more useful than just going to an event to see how things work out.

 

Do Your Research

If you know a company will have representatives at an event, take some time to research that company to know what they’re all about. Find some common ground with the representatives and decide what you want to get out of the meeting.

Decide Which Meetings are Right for You

Not every representative of every company will be worth your time at a networking event. Identify the companies that can benefit you the most, and spend most of your time with them. If you find that a conversation isn’t going anywhere, you don’t need to stick around. You don’t want to rudely cut anyone off, but understand that your time is too important to waste on something that isn’t going anywhere. Say goodbye, and politely move on to the next conversation.

 

Don’t Stop Networking

You don’t have to be at an event or in a formal meeting to network successfully; you are just as likely to make a good connection at a holiday party or some other informal get-together. Any time you can discuss your business and what you do can turn into a networking opportunity, even if it sounds like casual small talk.

 

Engage Online

Social media has been an incredible networking tool, whether you are on LinkedIn or Facebook. Young people in particular like reaching out on social media, so keep your social profiles up to date, and don’t hesitate to reach out to people digitally.

 

Avoid the Hard Sell

While your networking goal may be to make more connections, you don’t want anyone to feel pressured into doing business with you. Tell people at networking events who you are and what you do, but don’t launch into a sales pitch. There will be plenty of time to do that later in a more appropriate setting.