Networking is more than slick talk and effective first impressions. This becomes doubly apparent during times such as Ramadan. With Ramadan upon us next week, prepare for things to slow down, but not your networking ability. Here’s how you should prepare for networking during this time, as well as valuable tools you can use to enhance your standing or strengthen your relationships. What are your goals? The most pivotal component of your networking undertaking will be in fully understanding your circumstances and setting reasonable expectations. A common folly of many networkers is that they set unrealistic goals to aim for; they go into their undertaking expecting to get an immediate job offer or a tangible result. This occurrence, however, rarely comes to fruition, and its odds of success are diminished even more during Ramadan. The primary goal when networking should be to make yourself visible to important contacts. You cannot be considered for opportunities if people do not know who you are or are aware of what you can provide for them professionally or personally. Being on their radar is the building block that all other objectives must begin from. If you have successfully accomplished this initial goal of visibility, the next objective is to strengthen
the relationship. You have to cultivate authentic, rooted relationships with your contacts before you can ask them for a favour or expect them to assist you in your professional pursuits. Building trust is essential in this phase. Once a solid relationship is constructed, you must do everything you can to maintain the relationship. This means staying in regular contact with those you have established relationships with. This can most easily be conducted through simple phone calls and e-mails. However, it is important to have interpersonal communication every now and then to truly cement these bonds. How to achieve them? The best networkers know that the strongest relationships are those where connections are built on more than business. People build better relationships when they share overlapping areas of interest. This may be a shared passion for golf or for sailing. Whatever you happen to share with your contact, try to initiate a non-business activity with them, and treat the experience as if you are trying to build a friendship rather than a professional activity. Tools to use Social media can be a fantastic tool to use, even in these interpersonal engagements. Many times professionals give a glimpse into their private lives and favouritism, even if they don’t necessarily intend to. For instance, if a potential contact’s LinkedIn page makes a reference to their volunteer efforts with a football club, it is beyond a reasonable doubt that they may share your interest in the sport. Similarly, if their Google+ profile has a stream of articles from the same source, this is an indication that they have an interest in the general topics/genre of the writing. Use these hints to plan for conversations and potential non-business activities. Local events, festivals and activities are also huge opportunities to meet and greet with your professional colleagues. Local event calendars can provide a great tool to selecting great venues and activities that can match your shared interests and personalities. Stay tuned for our third installment, where we will go into detail on how you can take these preparations and how to put them into action.
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