Networking is a key part of a social entrepreneur’s experience, which is why we dedicate an entire workshop to it during Social Innovators Academy!
The main focuses of GivingPoint’s networking workshop include:
- Understanding the reasons for networking and recognizing networking opportunities.
- Identifying the soft skills necessary to be a successful networker, including handshake, eye contact, and body language.
- Developing strategies for initiating conversations, entering and exiting conversations, active listening, and more.
- Understanding the importance of capitalizing on connections made while networking by following up.
Professional networking involves to connecting with intelligent, like-minded individuals for the purpose of social and business pursuits. Networking doesn’t always have to be done with a specific end result in mind, but aiming for relationships that are mutually beneficial should be the goal. Additionally, networking doesn’t have to only occur in formal settings… any time you meet someone new, you have another opportunity to grow your network.
A strong first impression and great communication skills are necessary to start building your professional relationships. Some important things to think about when making a first impression include handshake, eye contact, and the way you present yourself. We call these “soft skills.” Your first impression is also affected by your attitude, tone, and word choice. As we’ve said, networking can happen anywhere, anytime, so as great as it would be to always meet people in your best power outfit, with business cards in hand, it doesn’t always work out that way. Well-practiced soft skills can make all the difference when you find yourself unprepared for a last-minute networking opportunity!
Being a skilled listener takes practice, but is an invaluable networking tool. These relationships are meant to be beneficial to all parties involved, which is why you need to be doing more than just talking about yourself. Listening to those around you, asking meaningful questions, and making connections for others are important parts of a successful networking relationship.
Stay in contact with these professional connections. Communication provides the foundation for networking. These days, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with your connections. You can use the traditional routes of email and phone calls to check in and chat, but you can also keep in touch through newer channels. Support them on LinkedIn with a “like” or comment on the latest post on their website. You can stay engaged in a variety of ways!
Your networking skills will grow with increased use. Every time you shake someone’s hand, exchange business cards, build a connection with a fellow social entrepreneur and more, you are practicing your talents and building your network.
Want even more hands-on practice with networking? Join our Social Innovators Academy to hear from an industry expert and learn the tangible tools you need to become a rockstar networker. We still have applications open for our 2019-2020 fall semester Saturday SIA program! We would love to have you join us. Learn more and apply today!