Effective networking is a hugely important and powerful tool for building your professional profile. It isn’t everyone’s best skill, many loathe the idea of aggressive networking, but being a recluse can be even more ineffective. Networking truly does have its benefits. It enables business people to share ideas and it provides opportunities to meet brilliant and inspiring individuals. Alongside this, you will expand your contact group, put yourself or your business on the map, and be provided with a stage to prove yourself. To get started you need a plan. Use your personality Remarkably, the main thing people overlook is their own personality. Instead of focussing entirely on business or ideas, try to understand your talents and limitations. Whether you are gregarious, a wallflower, or (ideally) somewhere in-between; it’s about making sure you find your most natural and effective place in the networking range, in order to be successful.. Additionally, as cliché as it sounds, you must be yourself and never try to overcompensate – people are very quick to see something suspicious and trust is extremely important when meeting new people. Online Networking The great thing is if you aren’t that confident with networking events in person, you can totally revolutionise yourself and your persona in the online world. Networking has another element to it since the ‘Internet Age’ began. With plenty of free platforms available online, LinkedIn stands out as one of the best, enabling you to connect to people you ordinarily wouldn’t, without a chain of introductions. Similarly, creating a blog will really get your personality across and hopefully get others talking. Build relationships and be visible Another important thing to think about is visibility. How can you start to build a network of important individuals if you don’t know anyone? It may only start with one person, but if you have reason to believe they could help you – then make sure you seize that opportunity. Building up healthy working relationships is important but takes time, and ensuring you keep contact is imperative but can be a tricky balancing act. Ensure you give and don’t just take; treat your contacts like they are your friends. Follow the rules There are all sorts of rules to follow, with lots of information online, award winning books on the topic, and even people around you who know the game – if you put your all into it, you will be a surefire success. Some other methods of increasing your skills in this arena include: Research your potential network – find out which events or people will benefit you, ensuring you don’t waste time. Make use of the internet, which has a vast amount of information hidden away! Meet new people as well as old friends – this will test your comfort zone but increase the size of your network exponentially. Alongside this, make sure you don’t always get stuck in your own industry group; although they seem obvious, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are relevant as they could be competitors. Plan – before any event, email or phone call, make sure you understand what you want to achieve, outline your objectives and make sure you know what you want to get out of it. The bottom line of networking is to make sure you can connect to people you otherwise had no access to – mainly in order to develop yourself and learn new things. However, there is always more to it than that. You may bring to the party something interesting, a new idea, or an opportunity to connect with someone to make something amazing happen. Either way, the best part of networking is that you never know what you’ll gain from it until you try. Images: “Image of male touching virtual icon of social network/ Shutterstock.com“ __________________________________________________________________________________ Connect with Tweak Your Biz: Would you like to write for Tweak Your Biz? Tweak Your Biz is an international, business advice community and online publication. Today it is read by over 140,000 business people each month (unique visitors, Google Analytics, December, 2013). See our review of 2013 for more information. An outstanding title can increase tweets, Facebook Likes, and visitor traffic by 50% or more. Generate great titles for your articles and blog posts with the Tweak Your Biz Title Generator.