Six Tips to Take Your Networking Skills to the Next Level

March 9, 2021

LinkedIn profile? Check. Solid handshake? Check.  

You’ve got the basics down, but what else should you be doing to take your networking to the #NextLevel? Check out these networking tips known only to the pros and start building new connections!

Perfect your pitch

For networking both in and out of DECA, craft a personal elevator pitch to help others quickly get to know you. Develop two to three sentences focused on what your skills and interests are and what you’re seeking to learn from other professionals when networking. Keep it succinct and polished by practicing out loud before any networking situation.

Come with questions

Whether you have a networking meeting with one person or are attending a bigger event, always have a few questions ready to get the conversation rolling. For personal meetings, research the latest news on the individual’s employer to develop thoughtful questions about their work. For networking events, use questions like “What got you involved in this organization?” or “What are you most looking forward to at this event?” to break the ice and start forming connections with other attendees.

Ask who else you should know

After a coffee meeting or informational interview, let your contact know how much you’ve valued their insight and ask if they know anyone else that might be beneficial for you to connect with based on your interests. If they have someone in mind, great! Ask for an introduction. If not, you never know when they might make a great connection, so keep up your networking relationship with them!

Focus on the give-and-take

The best networking is all about mutual benefit, but as a student, it may seem like you don’t have as much to offer older professionals. But that’s not always the case! As you network, listen for any cues as to where you might be able to help others. Do they have a child or other young family member that could benefit from connecting with a peer like you? Could their business use some help with social media or reaching a younger audience? Offer up your time and talent to build an even stronger connection.

Keep a networking log

The best networkers know real networking isn’t about a series of one-time conversations – it’s about building deep, ongoing relationships. To nurture the relationships you’re building, keep a document that tracks your networking contacts and meetings. Include who you’ve networked with, when and where you last spoke with them, key topics you discussed and when you plan to reach out to them again to keep your follow-ups relevant and timely.

Save and share

When it comes to networking, nothing beats sending someone an article related to their interests. As you come across articles on topics you often discuss while networking, save them using a tool like Google Keep and tag them with the names of who you want to share them with. A great article might remind you to reach out to a prior contact, or it could be the perfect addition to the follow-up note you already planned to send. Either way, this shows you remember the topics they’re interested in and gets the next conversation rolling!

Are you ready to expand your network to reconnect with others? Follow these tips and you’ll be networking like a pro in no time!

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