We all know what social and career networking involves; it is the developing and maintaining of contacts and personal connections with different people in your niche area who might be advantageous to you and your career. Networking has helped me to get every job I have ever had, in addition to helping my businesses obtain and retain clients. With Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc, we have all become gurus of sorts in the world of social and career networking. If you are a good web designer or developer, you know the importance of social and career networking both on the web and in person. However, in my experience, many designers and developers are introverts by personality, so though it is easy for them to networking via the internet, the actually person to person social or career networking is a little more difficult to them. In my opinion, both are equally important.
If you, your company, or your blog have 5000 plus followers on Twitter, but you do not know anyone in your actually city that is in your profession, then networking can only take you so far. In order to use networking, and let it work for you, you must take advantage of all avenues, and you must realize that it is a two way street. In this post, I will discuss why networking is important and gives some tips on how to improve your networking skills.
Reasons Why Networking is Important
Remember that the basic element to networking is meeting people, and the more people we know in our profession or career, the more we can improve our chances of growing your business, blog, or freelance work. The whole point of networking is to meet people, in order to expand your imprint to as many people as possible.
Another get benefit of networking is that you can build your contacts. Collecting and updating contact info, like phone numbers and e-mail addresses, is a great way to expand your name and to have people you can count in your field on when you need them.
Work or employment
Networking is a great way to get jobs, clients, or projects. In fact, it has helped me procure all of my jobs, because you can directly speak to potential clients or employers, or you can even be recommended by a person you meet while networking. The potential is unlimited.
Learn from others
When you meet people in your niche field, you have the opportunity to discuss and learn from them, and them from you. This sharing of knowledge is one of the most important elements of networking, because learning from actual professionals in the field’s real life experiences is priceless.
Another benefit of networking is the ability to promote yourself and get your name out there. Especially if you are new to a community or new to web design or development, networking allows you to link to other people in your profession, which can help you get more well-known in the field.
Tips to Improve Networking
Business cards are an important element to networking, because it is how people will get in contact with you. I suggest making your business cards a true representation of your artistic ability and originality. I suggest spending a little extra money and time designing your business card, because it is a networking opportunity that stays with a person and can really impress potential clients. Every business uses business cards as a way to network and advertise, but with web designers and developers, I recommend using creative business cards so that prospective clients can immediately get a taste of your potential.
Keep in regular contact
Remember that once contact is made, it is important to continue and keep the contact with the colleagues you meet through networking. Networking is only effective if it is long-lasting and endures beyond the initial contact. Thus, I recommend continuing to email, Twitter, call, or even ask for a lunch meeting with people you meet through networking. Just holding their business card is not enough to constitute networking, you must get to know each other on a personal level, and so make sure you continue to stay in regular contact with those you meet through networking.
In order to take full advantage of networking, you must be grateful for those you meet through networking and those who have assisted you or your company. A simple thank you goes a long way, and when you show appreciation for fellow colleagues in your field, that appreciation will be remembered and rewarded. So, remember to say a simple thank you to those you have benefited from through networking.
Another way to improve your networking skills, remember to be helpful to others you have met through networking. The philosophy I use is, “You scratch my back, and I scratch yours,” meaning that when someone is helpful to me, I always pay it forward or pay it back. When we first started this blog, we had so many other bloggers giving us tips and suggestions, that now that we have been around for a year, we have the ability to give back to those blogs through guest posts, or we pay it forward and help other design and development bloggers we have met through networking. So, be helpful to those you network with, and you will be remembered.
Take the incentive/Never feel inferior
Remember that when it comes to networking, you need to take the incentive and not wait until people come to you. Never feel inferior to others, even if they have more experience than you, have higher ranking blog, or are even a celebrity of such in your niche field, because they are still human and approachable. If you wait for people to come to you, networking will never happen. So, be proud of your accomplishments and realize that you deserve to be in the networking mix, because as much as you have to gain, you have to share.
Do not have an agenda
The last, but most important tip when it comes to networking is NOT to have an agenda. I know this seems contradictory, because your reason for networking is ultimately marketing, but remember to be genuine with your attempts to network. When I say do not have an agenda, I mean do not contact or network only for the sake of networking. Really use this as a way to legitimately get to know people in your niche field, and the positive results will come naturally.