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Networking. It’s the one word that can prompt professionals to roll their eyes or jump for joy. Some may prefer to attend traditional networking events in person, while others think that making connections online is just the same. No matter how you put it, networking is crucial for business success. However, these days it’s important to get a healthy mix of old and new ways to network, because you will meet a variety of different people from different backgrounds!

Have a LinkedIn Profile

Regardless if you’re job hunting or prospecting for new clients, having a LinkedIn profile is crucial. A LinkedIn profile can easily help professionals build, establish, and maintain connections in today’s technology driven world.

  • Build. Anytime you receive a new business card, look up that person on LinkedIn and request to connect with them. But instead of the pre-written message LinkedIn provides its users, personalize the message to show you’re genuinely interested in the professional relationship! It’s important to include where and when you met your connection and thank them for their opportunity.
  • Establish. Use groups to your advantage! Join groups that are relevant to your field of expertise and contribute regularly and thoughtfully. With great and consistent material, you can establish yourself as a well-sought out thought leader in your field, and you’ll have group members coming to you for advice and expertise!
  • Maintain. Although it’s important to grow your network of professional contacts, maintaining your network is just as important! Regularly congratulate your connections for promotions, work anniversaries, comment on posts, and provide recommendations for connections who deserve the praise.

But Don’t Forget About Networking in Person, As Well

Networking online can be relatively easy, and it doesn’t require you to leave the comfort of your office! However, it’s important to remember that networking in person is still as relevant today as it was 20 years ago. Not sure where to start? Attend local business association meetings, become a member of your professional association, or attend national and regional conferences. Not only will you gain contacts in your professional network, but you can learn new tricks of the trade in your field as well!

And Think Twice Before Handing Out Your Personal Cell Phone Number

As you’re networking, you’re most likely going to hand out business cards with your contact information to dozens of people. Although it can be great for business and personal endeavors, do you ever give a thought that these people are still practically a strangers to you? The phrase “don’t hand out your phone number to strangers,” is highly applicable here. Just as you would in an everyday setting, it’s not a good idea to hand someone your personal contact information if you don’t know them very well.

And through the advent of smartphones, it’s almost second nature to hand out your cell phone number because likely, you use your cell number more than anything else! Not only that, but cell phones have created the avenue for everyone to be available wherever and whenever, which is a trap you can easily fall into if you’re really trying to close an important business deal.

It’s important to remember that boundary lines need to be drawn between personal use and work, so a great starting point would be to use your work phone number instead of your personal cell phone number for networking purposes.

What is your preferred way to network? Let me know in the comments section below!