Networking is essential if you want to grow ahead in your career. The great news is that networking is not an inherent quality. You can practice and develop this important trait if you want to become a known name in professional circles. While we are all good at social media networking, but there are certain rules when it comes to professional networking.

Read ahead to know the do’s and don’ts of networking that can make you a pro at networking.

Introduce yourself

You go to a conference to meet other people working in your industry. When you reach there, a cloud of hesitation engulfs you. It is an understandable situation if you are not comfortable with initiating conversations. However, know that there is no shame in approaching people and introducing yourself. You can ease yourself into this by practicing what you are going to say well in advance. Think of a way to break the ice and get the conversation going. Once you have crossed this initial mental block, networking will come naturally to you. Do not forget to exchange your business cards.


Express your interest

There is nothing more putting off than meeting a person who only talks about himself. Right? The key to successful networking is expressing your genuine interest in knowing about the other person. Take a middle path here. Start by introducing yourself and what you do. Keep it short and sweet. Don’t adorn it with your achievements. Instead, be humble and share what is needed. Be confident and passionate when you talk about your work. People are more likely to remember your charming personality instead of your self-acclaimed accomplishments. The next step should be to ask where the other person is from and what does he do. Always remember not to ask any personal questions. Keep the conversation light and fun in a strictly professional manner.


Make your conversations memorable

A person is going to meet so many people at a conference that it is easy to forget some of them. To distinguish yourself from the crowd, you need to devise a strategy. Use a little bit of humor and wit to make your conversations memorable. You can even tell a few anecdotes to spice up your conversations. However, do not cross the realm of professional discussions. Do not state anything offensive, racist or personal, and keep the discussions appropriate.


Look for common interests

Once you have started a relationship, work towards strengthening it. The easiest way to do this is by bonding on the common interests. If it is golf, suggest a game on the weekend. If it is music, recommend a band or try going to a concert together. Even if it doesn’t work out professionally, you will be making a new friend who shares your interests and passions. And we all know how difficult it is to make friends after a certain age.


Keep in touch

Well, this goes out for all your relationships – whether new or old. Being in touch is the basis for any long-lasting connection. Make it a habit to contact your ex-colleagues or managers every once in a while. Call them or use another preferred way to connect. It could be as simple as sharing an article that you think they will enjoy reading. Go through your LinkedIn updates, and congratulate them for any achievements that you may come across.


Don’t connect only when you need a job

Calling only when you need something is perhaps the biggest mistake you make while networking. It may seem needy on your part and people may be less than willing in helping you. That’s why connecting regularly is an essential component of networking. In case of an emergency where you need help, it is advisable to call the other person. Make sure you exchange pleasantries and ask how the other person is doing. Don’t directly jump at the reason for your call.


Make it a two-way relationship

Networking is a mutual relationship. You can show that you value this bond and try to help the other person in whatever ways that you can. You can share any information that you feel be helpful for the other person. Similarly, you can inform the person about a job opening that he may be interested in.