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What comes to your mind when you hear the word “networking?”
Pinoys often associate it with network marketing (aka multi-level marketing or MLM) in which distributors recruit new distributors as their downlines. In that sense, networking has become a subject of jokes and memes, like the oft-used invite “Open-minded ka ba? Tara, kape tayo!“
But that’s not the kind of networking we’ll be talking about here—though it also entails open-mindedness.
In the truest sense, networking involves building relationships for purposes beyond selling and making money. Success—whether in career, business, advocacy, or any endeavor—is all about making connections.
The larger and more diverse your network is, the higher your chance of succeeding. Whether you’re an employee, entrepreneur, freelancer, or student, networking can open doors for you and help achieve your goals.
Read further to get tips and ideas on how to network like a pro.
What is Business Networking?
Networking is the process of building and maintaining mutually beneficial long-term relationships with people sharing the same interest, profession, background, and/or industry as yours.
When you network, you meet new people and keep in touch with them, exchange information and ideas, and do other activities (whether in-person or online) for professional or social purposes.
For example, entrepreneurs network with customers, suppliers, and other people and companies they may do business with.
Professionals develop relationships with colleagues and potential employers to learn about job prospects and career advancement opportunities. Freelancers use networking to gain new clients and learn from their peers.
Benefits of Business Networking
Networking is more useful than you think. It can boost your career, business, advocacy, or personal growth.
Here are the benefits you can reap through business networking:
- Discover the latest trends in your industry.
- Learn from experienced peers and industry experts.
- Gain mentors you can turn to for help, advice, and wisdom.
- Get fresh ideas and see things from a different perspective.
- Find clients, investors, vendors, and other partners for starting or growing your business.
- Find job prospects and career growth opportunities.
- Find suitable candidates to hire for your team.
- Get a good character reference when applying for a job, scholarship, or masters degree.
- Meet and make friends with like-minded people.
- Learn how to build wealth from people who are more experienced.
- Establish yourself as an authority in your niche by sharing your knowledge, insights, or advice.
- Hone your social skills, step outside your comfort zone, and boost your confidence.
- Improve your physical and mental health by forming meaningful bonds and lasting connections.
10 Tips for Effective Business Networking in the Philippines
New to business networking? Need to amp up your networking skills? Make the most of its benefits by keeping these networking tips in mind.
1. Build a strong online presence
In this COVID-19 era, there’s no opportunity to meet people through outdoor gatherings like conferences and expos. People now spend more screen time using their laptops and mobile devices.
Thus, effective networking in the new normal starts with making a great first impression online.
To achieve that, you have to make yourself more visible on the web. Here are some ways to maximize your online presence before you reach out to anyone:
- Create your own personal or business website/blog and link with other individuals or companies in your industry.
- Keep your social media profiles up-to-date (especially LinkedIn and Twitter) by uploading your latest photo and updating your information.
- Link with people working at companies you’re interested in. If you have a business, connect with other businesses as well.
- If you’re looking for work, let recruiters know you’re open to job opportunities. On LinkedIn, mark yourself “Visible” to recruiters and enable the Open to Work feature.
- Leave insightful or thought-provoking comments (not the spammy ones) on social media posts, blog posts, and forums related to your industry or niche.
- Recommend and tag other businesses in your social media and blog posts.
2. Be strategic in meeting new people
Meeting people randomly is a normal part of networking. But to grow your network faster, be proactive rather than passively waiting for others to reach out to you.
Have a plan for meeting new people strategically. Here’s what you can do:
- Identify who you want to meet. If there’s no particular person you have in mind yet, you may target certain types of people, like experts in your field or those who work in companies you’re interested in.
- Check the online profiles of people you want to meet. This will enable you to determine if the person is worth approaching and find some common ground for your future interactions.
- Engage with your target networks. Share their content and write comments on their posts to get yourself noticed by the people you want to make connections with.
3. Learn the best networking style to use
People approach networking differently. Each person has their own behavioral style, based on their personality when they network with others.
Here are four networking styles you need to know:
- Values results
- Dominant, impatient, focused, and driven
- Thinks, speaks, and acts quickly
- Seeks successful people and experts to gain new business and achieve other goals
- Values making connections
- Friendly, outgoing, fun, and approachable
- Great at getting people excited about their vision
- Risk-taker who makes decisions based on intuition
- Active supporter who seeks to promote a person, business, or cause
- Values sincerity and steadiness
- Kind, helpful, supportive, patient, and caring
- Great listener and team player
- Prefers working at a slower pace and hates being rushed into things
- Reluctant to take risks
- Seeks supportive and reliable people
- Values accuracy and detail
- Intelligent, analytical, thorough, efficient, and task-driven
- Perfectionist and methodical when it comes to setting goals and making decisions
- Great conversationalist, especially about topics within their range of expertise
Knowing the different networking styles helps you develop stronger professional relationships. Understand your own style and that of the person you want to engage with. In doing so, it’s easier to adapt to your networking partner’s style, establish rapport, and make the person feel comfortable.
4. Add a personal touch to your messages
The biggest challenge of reaching out to people online is the lack of face-to-face interaction. It’s hard to trust just any people you meet online.
To compensate for that, make sure that you personalize the messages you send to your prospective networking partners. You want to come off as a genuine person with a legitimate reason to interact with people online. So avoid sending out a generic, one-size-fits-all message when introducing yourself to others.
The best way to add a personal touch to your introduction is to mention things you have in common with someone you’re meeting online. For example, it would be worth saying that you went to the same university, have the same degree, or worked for the same company.
Even simple things like mentioning a person’s name each time you talk to him or her can do wonders. People like to be called by their name (Who doesn’t?). It is music to their ears and makes them feel valued.
5. Stay in touch
Your follow-up with a new connection is as critical as the initial meeting. As soon as possible, continue the conversation after meeting a new person.
However, ensure that your follow-up is natural and organic rather than forced. You may add the new acquaintance on LinkedIn or any other appropriate social media platform with a personalized note about who you are and how you met.
Keep the professional relationship going by commenting on their posts, sharing content that may be helpful or interesting, or simply checking in on them.
6. Win people over with your passion
Sharing each other’s passion is the key ingredient in successful networking. What do you enjoy doing? What has inspired you to start your business or career? Tell a story about that, and your professional contact will love to hear more from you.
When you show your excitement over something—be it your job, business, or personal project—people are encouraged to share their passion with you as well. Your conversation becomes more meaningful that way.
7. Listen actively and intently
Networking is about relationship-building more than promoting yourself. Being a good listener is a great way to get to know a person and find out what makes them tick.
During a conversation, pay attention to what the other person is saying. Let them speak and resist the temptation to dominate the conversation. Make them feel you’re genuinely interested in them by asking follow-up questions and about their interests, hobbies, and passions.
8. Avoid giving the hard-sell
Being too aggressive, like promoting your business or asking for a job right after meeting someone, can be a huge turn-off.
Although your end-game is gaining a new customer or finding a job, remember that networking is about building rapport—which takes time.
Focus on making sincere and genuine connections first. People are more likely to trust and partner with those whose company they enjoy. Once you achieve that, your contacts will be the ones to refer you to job or business opportunities.
9. Focus on how you can help others
When networking, think about what you can offer rather than what you want to achieve for yourself. See how you can help others through your knowledge, skills, and experience.
For example, if a contact is currently struggling with a startup business, you can offer your advice or refer them to someone who can better help them solve their problems.
If you’re skilled at public speaking, apply as a speaker in events related to your expertise. You can also spend time helping others by answering their questions on social media and forums.
10. Be yourself
Authenticity is critical in networking. People respond better to those who are genuine than those who try to act like someone else. Whether you’re socially awkward or funny, show your real personality!
Who knows, people might find that charming and endearing.
Networking in the New Normal: 7 Ways to Network in the Philippines
Putting yourself out there is the first crucial step to networking. But how can everyone do that effectively during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Enter digital networking. Thanks to the internet, you can still have social interactions despite the quarantine restrictions and social distancing measures that have made in-person events impossible.
Online networking opportunities abound today. You can find great ones if you know where to look. Here are some ways to connect with people you’d like to network with in the new normal.
1. Referrals from existing contacts
Tap into your existing network—your family, friends, colleagues, and other people you already know—for referrals. You might also need to reconnect with former classmates and workmates you haven’t talked to in a while.
Ask them for recommendations for persons, companies, or professional organizations you should be talking with. For sure, they can introduce you to their acquaintances whom you’d like to meet.
2. Email outreach
Cold emailing—as long as it’s done right—is still a good way to make new connections online despite the popularity of social media nowadays. It allows you to send personalized messages to your potential network partners and possibly start a conversation and even lasting relationships.
The challenge with email outreach, though, is finding a particular person’s or organization’s contact information, which may or may not be publicly available.
Try these different ways to get the email address of those you need to reach out to.
a. Do a Google search
Google is a good place to start your email address hunt. If you have particular people and/or companies in mind, look up their names along with the term “email” or “contact.”
Your Google search may be further fine-tuned by limiting it to pages within a certain website. For example, if you want to contact a particular blogger, use the term “site:[the blogger’s website domain] + [blogger’s name] + “email or contact.”
b. Search relevant websites
You may also manually track down email addresses on relevant websites. Look at the top and bottom headers, About Us page (or Author page on blogs), and Contact Us page. These places usually indicate the site owner’s email address and other contact details.
c. Use Twitter Advanced Search
Your potential contact might have tweeted their email address. If you know that person’s Twitter handle, use the social network’s Advanced Search feature to find a mention of their email address.
d. Use email extractors
Got no luck finding a particular email address? You can rely on online tools to help you get someone’s email. There are Google Chrome extensions that can extract email addresses automatically from web pages in just a few clicks.
LinkedIn is the best social media platform for professional networking, with several tools for creating new connections and nurturing existing ones.
There are several ways to leverage LinkedIn for online networking:
- Optimize your profile by highlighting your most important accomplishments and milestones.
- Join groups aligned with your interests and passions.
- Contact people within your network via direct messaging.
- Find like-minded people and interesting companies to follow.
- Search for potential employers by job title or company.
- View and connect with employees of a company you’re following.
- Share articles and SlideShare decks relevant to your profession or industry.
- Engage with people you follow by commenting on their posts or replying to their comments.
- Stream or watch and engage with LinkedIn Live videos.
- Congratulate your connections on their work anniversaries and/or greet them on their birthdays when you receive notifications from LinkedIn.
Another social network that’s often used for professional networking is Twitter. The microblogging site allows people to engage with potential clients, recruiters, and mentors through liking, commenting, retweeting, and sending direct messages.
Take advantage of Twitter as an online networking tool in different ways, including the following:
- Update your Twitter bio to reflect what you do and what you’re interested in. Also, place your website or blog URL to get more visitors to your site.
- Research and follow companies, view their job postings, and connect with recruiters.
- Search and connect with people in a specific location or working for a certain company.
- Start a conversation with people you want to engage with by mentioning them in a tweet or inviting them to send you a DM.
5. Online communities
Join groups with similar interests to yours on Facebook, Reddit, Meetup, and other online communities where you can regularly interact with potential networks.
Q&A platforms like Quora are also good places to expand your network, as they allow you to ask questions and share your knowledge with interested people.
Don’t just sign up to become a member—actively participate in their forums, discussions, online events, and other activities. You can also ask questions, share information, opinions, and tips, and offer or ask for help.
This way, you raise your odds of meeting new people and building professional relationships.
6. Virtual events
Networking has shifted from traditional to virtual during the coronavirus pandemic. Before, events were held at big venues with thousands of attendees. But because quarantine protocols restrict mass gatherings, networking events are happening online.
Companies, non-profit organizations, and government offices are hosting online events that you can join for networking purposes. Be on the lookout for virtual networking events such as webinars, live chats, and Q&A sessions related to your field—and be sure to make time for them.
Some of the best platforms for finding virtual networking events in the Philippines include Facebook Events, Eventbrite, and Meetup.
7. Professional associations
Regardless of industry or expertise, there are organizations that allow professionals to widen their network and interact with experts and peers. These professional associations provide such networking platforms through their websites and social media channels.
What’s more, they offer learning and networking opportunities through virtual events, online member meet-ups, mentorship programs, and other initiatives.
Ask your bosses and colleagues and search online for organizations you can join in your field.
For example, digital marketers may join the Internet Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines (IMMAP). Communication and PR professionals will benefit from signing up as a member of the Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP).