Gut Check | Thursday, June 9, 2016
Five Tips for Networking with a Purpose
The internet is full of advice on how to make the most out of networking opportunities, from body language (steady eye contact; firm handshake) to the art of the follow-up email and social media etiquette. Ultimately, the best advice boils down to putting forth the best version of yourself. As GI professionals, your passion for the specialty already gives you a shared connection to build on. Here are some tips culled from an SGNA News article, “How to Network Like a Pro (and still have fun!).
- Keep an open mind. When you’re attending an industry event, try sitting next to someone you don’t know instead of the coworkers you came with. Or invite those people standing alone into your group conversation. Make small talk while you are waiting in line. You never know who you may end up connecting with.
- Balance quality and quantity. It’s not always about walking away from an event with the most business cards. If you only meet one new person, but the two of you are like long-lost siblings, that’s just as valuable as becoming acquaintances with 25 new people. However, if setting a quota for how many new connections you would like to make keeps you motivated and forces you to engage more, by all means, do it.
- Remember to reconnect as well. Networking isn’t just about connecting. It’s about reconnecting, particularly with the people you feel strongly about but don’t see regularly. With these relationships, think about scheduling a specific time to meet during the event that’s outside the scheduled events.
- Always follow up. There’s no absolute rule on when or how to follow up with your network. For some, it will be as simple as connecting on LinkedIn and occasionally “liking” their posts. It may be getting together once a year at the Annual Course. For others, including the people with whom you have a special connection, it may be more frequently than that. Ultimately, any follow-up is better than none at all.
Fast Track Your Networking. Perhaps the single best thing you can do is get more involved in SGNA. As any active volunteer will tell you, this is a great way to experience quantity and quality in your network. The more involved you are, the more people in the field that you meet. As you work closely together to support the association, you’ll also develop lifelong ties. Learn more the perks of membership by visiting our website at sgna.org/Member-Center/How-to-Join.