Your three-step guide to networking like a pro

Joel Svensson

A professional network can be many things: a springboard, a safety net, a grapevine or even a financial windfall. Whatever your objective is, a network needs to be nurtured before you can start seeing the benefits.

To find out how, ShortPress spoke to Charishma Kaliyanda from Professionals Australia. As a Professional Development Coordinator, Kaliyanda is skilled in networking and has provided her most useful tips for growing your business community.

Go for quality over quantity

Hitting up a trade fair and handing out 50 business cards isn’t exactly a recipe for success. Kaliyanda maintains that it’s the substance of the relationships and not the numbers that make a healthy network.

She says: “If you’re a bit of an introvert, aim to have one to two meaningful conversations at an event… Putting yourself out there can be tough and awkward, but the benefits of networking properly can far outweigh that feeling!”

Don’t let preconceptions limit you – networking is about building trust and helping each other out.

Always follow up

Robust relationships don’t just happen. Developing a rewarding network takes time and effort far beyond the first meeting.

“Meeting someone once and having their business card sitting on your desk for months does nothing for you in the long run unless you find a way to continue the conversation and build from your shared interests.” says Kaliyanda.

Kaliyanda suggests using tools like LinkedIn to help you keep track of your contacts so you can assist them when possible.

“Keep in mind that if you pay attention to the interests of your contacts, they’re likely to pay attention to yours and provide input when needed – exactly like a community!”

Robust relationships don’t just happen. Developing a rewarding network takes time and effort far beyond the first meeting.

Don’t be put off

Some people shy away from the idea of networking because they view it as dishonest, manipulative or coldly transactional. But at its core, networking is about knowing the value of community.

“There is nothing manipulative or dishonest about having a stake in and caring about the professional success of your contacts,” says Kaliyanda.

In fact, disingenuous networking is not only easy to spot, it rarely works out for the person being dishonest.

“The key is to remember that durable relationships take time to build and being genuine goes a long way. Approaching every interaction with an agenda to get something out of it for your career is obvious and is not real networking.”

Don’t let preconceptions limit you – networking is about building trust and helping each other out. After all, as Kaliyanda says, “No career is an island!”

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Joel Svensson

Joel Svensson is a Melbourne-based freelance writer specialising in politics and business.

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