Organise your contacts
Before you do anything, you need to get organized, and address books apps will help you do that, and more. These tools allow you to organize your data into a variety of categories and subcategories, and it even is able to fill in information that you may not have from what’s available either publicly or through other accounts you’ve linked to your profile.
This way, you’re not scrambling for someone’s number or email address -- you will have what you need right at your fingertips. Regardless of how untidy your contacts might be or what networking opportunities you want to maximize, remember to use your tools!Go beyond regular data
Phone numbers and email are two of the most common things people think about when they hear the words “contact information.” And these are, admittedly, very important.
Phone and email will probably be the primary way you reach people, but you want to go beyond the basic facts and keep track of who the people you connect with really are. Make sure to connect across all platforms, and when compiling your data about them, include any personal information you have learned about someone. This can include details such as birthdays, place of residence, or family members.
Use contact management apps to their best effect in keeping track of the more “humanizing” factors with custom fields, and keep your networking connections fresh and complete. Showing you remember details that they’ve given you is impressive -- using your tools to help you do this is only prudent. Keep in contact
It’s very transparent to just contact someone on their birthday and before a major holiday. A Christmas card once a year and a birthday email aren’t really suitable for networking. You need to keep in regular contact with the people you want to network with so that they don’t forget you and vice versa.
This isn’t to say you should obsessively message them, but reaching out at least once or twice every month or so will make more of an impression that just being a seasonal networker. Maintaining relationships with people in your industry is one of the vital aspects of networking so do not blow this opportunity. When you overdo it or you do not contact them often enough problems tend to appear.Be authentic
When thinking of “networking,” people may be concerned that it is inauthentic and based solely on furthering your career. While career goals and aspirations are admirable, they’re not the only things that are important. Don’t forget that you’re actually meeting with a fellow person, not a key to unlocking a door.
Get to know people on a personal level, even if it’s just a few facts about their life. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t respect boundaries; but keeping an authentic connection requires genuine conversation and interest in the other person as a person. Keep the introductions going
If you meet someone to network with, you should, if you have the opportunity, introduce them to people who also would benefit from networking with them. This way, you’re not only helping out coworkers and friends, you’re also proving yourself to be a reliable source of information and networking skills.
Introducing your coworkers to the people you’re networking with will reflect well on you, and it will aid you in forming better connections, not only with your network but also with the coworkers you see daily. This will broaden your reputation and put you in a place of authority, as you’ll be viewed as someone in the know. Divide your attention evenly
You don’t want to focus all of your attention on one group of your network. You want to divide your attention evenly. If it seems like you’re only calling on someone when you need something, that is inauthentic.
But, if you pay attention to people and keep in regular contact with them, you won’t come off as anything less than genuine.
Don’t neglect parts of your network in favor of others. If you need assistance one day, you want to be able to reach out and not feel a sense of awkwardness. It’s awkward not to speak to someone for a long time and then suddenly, out of the blue, ask them for a favor. Don’t allow that to happen; divide your attention evenly and keep the lines of communication open. Network laterally and vertically
In this case, “laterally” and “vertically” refer to the hierarchy in your industry. While you obviously want to build relationships with those who are above you (vertical networking) in the hierarchy, you should not neglect people who are in the same position as you.
If networking between two corporations, for example, you will want someone who is on the same page as you and can get you what you need. Networking laterally builds your relationships with your coworkers and, if they get promoted, they will remember the connection you took the time to make with them.
Networking is an art, and it is one of the most valuable tools you can have when it comes to making your career take off. Hopefully, these tips have helped you understand a little more about how to go about forming and maintaining your professional network.