Can You Be Proactive in Networking?

Matt| July 30, 2015| News

We all know we should network through social media, but simply setting up a LinkedIn profile or Twitter account, and posting regularly, isn’t enough. You need to be proactive.

Being proactive doesn’t mean treating every interaction like a door-to-door salesperson from the 1950s. The proactive networker sees their actions as part of a two-way relationship, in which the person or company they are contacting also receives some kind of benefit from the interaction.

Simply put, proactive networking means being friendly and engaging. It means reconnecting with familiar faces and reaching out to people you actually want to be a part of your own personal network. It’s like hosting a great party that you feel everyone should be a part of and enjoy.

Reach Out to Old Friends, Colleagues and Co-Workers

Start off your more proactive approach to networking by reconnecting with old college roommates, co-workers and classmates. Reaching out to these people is easy, because you’re probably already connected to them on social media, and you have a history together.

Exchanging private messages over social media can be a great way to reconnect with old acquaintances. Take a ‘soft sell’ approach, and simply let them know what you’ve been up to – personally and professionally. Reconnecting with these people over Facebook also means that the social network’s algorithm is more likely to put your future posts in these folks’ News Feed.

Join Industry Groups, Attend Their Events and Interact!

Once you’ve gotten some networking momentum going, join a group or association connected with your industry. These groups often have events specifically for networking which allows you to be more direct in your networking interactions.

For gregarious people, these networking events can be a breeze. But for those who can be a bit on the introverted side, they can be a real challenge. Writing last year for Inc., Jeff Haden suggested one simple technique for socializing in a group of strangers – find another person who may be feeling a bit socially awkward, and try to get them to feel more comfortable. In doing them a favor by engaging them, you’re forgetting your own reluctance to be social.

Start an IRL Social Group

If you’re really feeling confident about engaging others, start a social group that brings people together. It’s a great way to be proactive about networking, without overtly doing so. From a book club to a softball team, a social group can be anything that gets people together on a regular basis. And the genius part of it is: It doesn’t feel like networking. People in these groups have a way of finding out what each other does for a living. Before you know it you’ve expanded your network.

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