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Learning to network: 30 tips for proper networking

Relationships only hurt those who don't have one. The right contacts, the proverbial vitamin B - all of this can open doors that would otherwise remain closed. Yet what exactly is the secret for proper networkingthat will also help you in your career? What is important in networking? What should applicants look out for? And more importantly: you can Learning to network? The answer is: Yes, you can learn ... The following tips, tricks and suggestions will make you a networking professional ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Networking definition: what is it like?

Networking (also called "networking" or "networking") describes - aloud definition - the establishment and maintenance of one's own network of contacts. The goals of networking are knowledge exchange, mutual help and, last but not least, professional advantage - for example when looking for a job or a career. The network is based on the Friends-friends principle: Every new member brings in new contacts. The resulting network of relationships is constantly expanding.

But how do you become the perfect networker? What do professionals advise? What are the most important rules and the biggest mistakes?

Before you become the perfect networker, the first thing to do is four basic rules to heed:

  1. Determine the goal.

    What do I expect from the contacts? What do I want to achieve with it? Only those who define their goals can keep an eye on the essentials and convey this to others.

  2. Class instead of mass.

    A network is only as valuable as its members. Who you include in your private circle should depend on the goals, not the statistics.

  3. Give first, then take.

    The best way to get started is to have professional similarities and share knowledge. Without expecting anything in return. Advice should also only be given to others if they ask.

  4. Stay tuned.

    Once the connection has been established, it should be deepened - through a virtual exchange of ideas and personal (!) Meetings. Contacts have to be cultivated.


Women's networks don't help

Women's networks do not live up to expectations. According to a survey by the Harvard Business Managers Their members hope to get to know female colleagues (56 percent), to create a better working environment for women (54 percent) and to make progress in the company (48 percent). Yet these clearly defined expectations are seldom met. Above all, achieve the recommendation rate with a so-called Net Promoter Score from -3 (scale: -100 to 100) a below-average bad value. Even more: the networks are often nothing more than a career impasse.

Learning to network: who belongs in your network?

You may ask yourself: what are they the right contactswho is part of it?

Good question! That always depends on your own vita, your own Career goals, plans and routes. But at the core - and this is the trick - you should gather two types of people in your network:

  • People who similar goals pursue like you.
  • People who are already therewhere you want to go.

Why? Very easily…

  1. People who pursue goals similar to yours ...

    serve conspiracy. Anyone who thinks of potential competition here has not yet internalized the core of networking. Such contacts have similar backgrounds, similar goals and thus similar problems - and of course experiences and solutions. Benefit from it for each otherby exchanging information regularly! After all, you don't have to make the same mistake that others have already made - and everyone can only win.

    However, this group should not be too large, otherwise experience has shown that the Exchange suffers, and it is becoming more and more difficult and time-consuming to organize it on a regular basis.

    Otherwise, however, you should give each other a so-called Gentleman’s Agreement Make an appointment: What is exchanged there stays in the group. After that, however, exchange ideas as openly as possible about ...

    What you are doing here is basically nothing more than a Citation cartel to create that in sociology also called Dutch Admiral Paradigm What is known is that two Dutch cadets are said to have sworn to each other at the time and before they went to war that they would report only good things about each other's deeds. They praised each other upwards. In the end, the two were the youngest admirals in the Netherlands.

  2. People who are already where you want to be ...

    are even more important. For two reasons:

    • You act like Mentorsand you can learn a lot from them.
    • You could even her successor become.

    In short: these people own many Experience and insider knowledgethat you urgently need on your way. Maintain these contacts in a targeted and regular manner. Most importantly, ask these people to learn from them. Questions can be:

    • What do you love about your job?
    • What challenges do you have to expect?
    • Which key skills are absolutely required?
    • What would you have liked to have known earlier?
    • What advice would you give to a beginner like me?

Self-Assessment: What Networking Type Are You?

Vitamin B, networking, networking, socializing - there are many expressions for building relationships with new people. Some find it easier to approach their fellow human beings, while others have to overcome it. See our Self test find out what type of networking you are.

The self-test consists of ten questions. A different number of points is given for the answers. Please add up the number of points for your answers. At the end of the list of questions you will get to the evaluation.

How many networking events do you attend each month?

  • Phew, I stopped counting at some point. (3 p.)
  • Oh, it'll be one or two. (1 P.)
  • Wait, every month? It's way too stressful for me. I only take part in big events once a year. (2 p.)

How long do you stay at get-togethers, conferences and similar events?

  • I stop by for a moment, but then leave relatively quickly. (1 P.)
  • Actually, I'm always one of the last to leave. You just meet so many people and have so much to talk about. (3 p.)
  • It all depends on how many people address me. (2 p.)

How do you make new contacts?

  • Friends and acquaintances introduce them to me. (2 p.)
  • I will wait until someone speaks to me. (1 P.)
  • I approach new people, introduce myself and start a conversation. (3 p.)

Who do you go out to eat or have a coffee with during your lunch break?

  • It changes, sometimes with my colleagues from accounting, sometimes with a customer and with my office neighbor. (3 p.)
  • Whoever has the time and inclination. (2 p.)
  • I always go out to eat with my colleagues in my office. We get along very well. (1 P.)

You sit with your colleagues at lunch and they talk over the weekend. How do you take part in the conversation?

  • I am mostly listening. (1 P.)
  • I share my plans, talk to colleagues about the best destinations for short trips and make recommendations. (3 p.)
  • It depends on my mood. Sometimes I join in discussions, sometimes I'm annoyed. (2 p.)

Which contacts are in your professional network?

  • Actually everyone I deal with. (2 p.)
  • Colleagues with whom I once worked. (1 P.)
  • I choose my contacts specifically. (3 p.)

How do you spend your Friday evening?

  • I prefer to go out, either to a party or to eat with friends and acquaintances. There is always something. (3 p.)
  • Cozy on the couch with a good book or movie. (1 P.)
  • Most of the time, one of my friends or acquaintances calls and we do something. We are also happy to have an after-work beer with colleagues. (2 p.)

You got on well with someone at a networking event. What happens after that?

  • I hope the person gets in touch with me. We exchanged the contact information. (1 P.)
  • A few days later I get in touch with the person and arrange another meeting. (3 p.)
  • I have to admit, I often forget to get in touch. (2 p.)

You get to know someone new. How do you introduce yourself?

  • I say my name and smile shyly. (1 P.)
  • I smile, make eye contact, introduce myself and ask for details about my counterpart. (3 p.)
  • I grin, briefly say "Hi" and am already gone again. I spotted a friend in the other corner. (2 p.)

How do you deal with professional success?

  • I do a good job and I want my colleagues and my boss to know that too. I like to share progress and successes. (3 p.)
  • I am embarrassed to talk about successes. It's called self-praise stinks. (1 P.)
  • My services speak for themselves, don't they? (2 p.)
Evaluation of the self-test


Speaking of which: In order for new contacts to become resilient relationships and a vital network, you have to Maintain contacts. And unfortunately it is the case that many acquaintances quickly evaporate again if you don't take care of them.

Lauren Berger, the founder of an internship agency, therefore has the 3-by-1 rule invented: She maintains each of her contacts at least three times in a year - in spring, summer and autumn. A short phone call and a few emails are often enough.

Networking properly: Tips for better networking

The contact to the "right" people does not come about by itself, but is the result of a strategic and continuous networking. The following tips and tricks will help you with targeted networking:

    Body language

  1. Always keep eye contact.

    Especially when you are talking to or talking to the other person. Everything else seems disinterested or insecure. You hardly get any sympathy for either. You shouldn't overdo it when it comes to making eye contact: Fixing your counterpart visually can be intimidating. The scrutinizing look unsettles or mutates into a kind of eye mica: whoever looks away first has lost.

  2. Lean forward.

    That signals interest. However, what is meant here is only leaning forward slightly instead of relaxed lounging. Get too close to the other person, violate his / her distance zone, frighten you and appear too dominant.

  3. Smile

    Smiling immediately makes you likeable and has been proven to be the easiest and best way to get to know someone. It also helps to give some nice (but not raunchy) compliments. Everyone likes to hear them.

  4. Do you have a goal.

    When you walk through the room, please always look as if you have a goal - either a group at the other end of the room or the bar. Anyone wandering around gives a poor picture: that of a lonely Mickerling, Nobody wants to have anything to do with.

  5. Mirror your counterpart.

    The mirror image behavior shows how harmonious a relationship or conversation is. But it can also be used to reduce the distance to the other person or his reservations. Use the so-called chameleon technique to carefully imitate the body language of your counterpart: if he crosses his arms, do the same. Over time, he will subconsciously gain trust. Your body language suggests sympathy and harmony to him. Incidentally, it works the same way with facial expressions and language. You can imitate the way he speaks, the way he speaks, the intonation, or his choice of words. But please don't ape! All of this has to be done in a subtle way.

  6. Strategic approach

  7. Prepare yourself.

    Before making the first contact, you should find out more about the respective person. This knowledge can not only serve as a starting point for a conversation, you can also anticipate and classify some reactions.


    Introductory questions for networking events

    Often the reluctance to approach other people stems from not knowing what to say. Here are a few suggestions on how to get started with simple questions:

    • What do you do for a living? The classic among all small talk intros. It opens up a series of follow-up questions, for example about the company, the industry or the position in which the other person works. The question is a good one, but also a rather trite one. You don't attract attention through originality.
    • What do you get inspired by? Undoubtedly the more original opener. Because it makes the other reflect on themselves - and that inspires both of you. The question is therefore not only suitable as an introduction to a conversation, but also as a starting point for a discussion in an already established group.
    • Which book are you reading now? This question is also aimed at sources of inspiration, but can also be expanded to include hobbies or private interests. In any case, you will gain a lot of information about your counterpart and other topics of conversation.
    • How did you find the lecture? The prerequisite for this is, of course, that there was such a presentation. But then it is important that you do not trumpet your own opinion right away. Especially if you thought the lecture was stupid. Otherwise you will immediately spread a negative mood at the beginning. And that blocks. A substantive and intellectual examination of what has been said emphasizes your common ground as a listener and creates new points of discussion.
    • Would you like to drink something? The ideal start for someone who is still lonely and alone at a table. You not only show attention and good manners, but also use the Benjamin Franklin effect. Alternatively: "Shall I bring you something from the bar?" However, if you meet an attractive woman and want to start a conversation with her in this way, the gentleman option is recommended: bring her the drink directly with you. But first, please spy out your preferences.
  8. Look for common ground.

    From sympathy research we now know that we immediately find someone more likeable who is similar to us or who shares the same feelings and understands us.

  9. Offer something.

    An idea, a new concept, a good contact. The main thing is that it is something that helps the other person. Such a noble gesture breaks the ice and leaves a lasting impression - not least because of the reciprocity rule.


    The 70-20-10 formula


    The social media consultant Mike Sansone has a special one Formula for successful networking developed - the 70-20-10 rule:

    • 70

      Trust is the beginning of everything - including good, resilient relationships. So if you want to build a network of relationships (vulgo: networks), you should invest 70 percent of your time and commitment in gaining trust. The best way to do this is by providing benefits for others, arranging contacts or making a few calls for others, giving tips, helping.

    • 20

      As soon as people trust you and, thanks to your help, have made some progress themselves, they start to be interested in you too. OK then. Because you spend the next 20 percent so that others can get to know you better - through what you tell about yourself, what moves you, what you fight for, what you strive for. Show who you are - but please do not brag.

    • 10

      After being committed to others, building trust, and getting to know each other personally, real relationships are forged. First you can expect others to spend time and energy on your behalf in order to help you, i.e. to become a resource for you. Now you can talk about yourself and your needs, ask for advice or specific help - but only to 10 percent.

  10. Proceed gently.

    Nobody likes to be taken by surprise. Or freely based on Goethe's Torquato Tasso: "This is how you feel the intention and you are out of tune." Relationships, like trust, grow slowly.

  11. Share contacts.

    If you recommend people to others (only those you know well, of course), three will benefit from it: the new contact, your old one and you. Because the two are now also your multipliers who will praise your qualities as mediators and helpers.

  12. Make reliable commitments.

    Sentences like: "I'll get in touch with you tomorrow." Are easy to pronounce, but then have to be adhered to. You will be measured by commitments - and their reliable compliance. Failure to keep promises will damage your credibility enormously.

  13. Ask meaningful questions.

    Not sure what to talk about? Then ask. By asking polite and purposeful questions, you show the person you are speaking to that you really care about them. This not only brings you new information for your network work, but also flatters the ego of your new contact.

  14. Make it easier to contact you.

    Your e-mail signature, the profiles in various social networks (and your blog) have one thing in common: You can and should link to all other networks there, making it easier to contact you.

  15. Network events

  16. Introduce yourself correctly.

    If possible, introduce yourself first and with your full name. It would be nice to have a good first sentence that characterizes you and what the other person can potentially expect from you. This can be a short (!) Description of what you do for a living or a phrase that arouses curiosity - a kind of elevator pitch. Only one thing is forbidden: to be bored.

  17. Shake hands.

    Sounds obvious, but it has two much more important effects: A proper handshake reveals a lot about yourself and creates physical contact. That connects subtly.

  18. Take enough business cards with you.

    First, because experience shows that they go out faster than you think; and second, because you often only get to know the best people at the end. Stupid if the cards are all gone. Important here: Never distribute business cards like ordinary playing cards, but with due self-respect. This is the only way to show you the corresponding appreciation.


    The 2-pocket trick for network meetings

    A typical networking evening. Everyone slips you their card. Result: you end up with a nice one Card game, with whom you could easily play title quartet ... But, darn it, who was who again?

    It's a classic networker problem. Actually you should most interesting people after such a first meeting again to contactFollow-up That is called in the technical language. Thank you for the nice conversation, incorporate a few details from the previous evening and plan more Cooperation steps. Stupid if you then confuse the facts or simply no longer yourself recall can.

    Professionals therefore advise you to have a few regularly on the same evening notes to the people on the Back of card close. Of course not while people are still standing by and can see that. To do this, one withdraws discreetly - in case of doubt on the Toilet.

    Another method is that Two-pocket trick: After you have adequately appreciated each other's business card, put it in different pockets:

    • The cards of people, including you keep in touch want to keep them in the right trouser pocket,
    • the Annoyances in the left.

    Nobody notices the difference, but they do disposal is much easier afterwards.

  19. Be authentic.

    Sure, that's an overused word. What is meant here is above all to be friendly, refreshing and honest. Nobody likes self-love thumpers. If you are concerned about being prone to it, start by praising the other person and asking them questions.

  20. Radiate something positive - always.

    You know the bon mot: "Success makes you sexy"? The reason for this is simple: you can literally tell when you are satisfied with yourself and the world. And since we all long for it, such people are extremely attractive. Try to preserve this inner satisfaction before such an event and to radiate it on site - and people will approach you.

  21. Put on something comfortable.

    Of course, you should - if shown - take any dress codes into account. But you should also feel comfortable in your clothes and not in disguise. Because you radiate that too.

  22. Take breaks.

    As the word “working” suggests, networking is definitely hard work. The mind must remain wide awake at all times, the stress level and reaction speed are correspondingly high. Those who are so energetically charged are fascinating. Those who are tired, however, are not. So treat yourself to breaks in between - for example at the bar, so that you can discreetly add short notes to the business cards you have collected over a drink. And only approach new people when you are mentally fully there. Otherwise: There is no shame in going home at some point because you get tired.

  23. ALWAYS check back.

    Every new contact should be contacted again within three days - by email, letter or phone. Otherwise the still tender bond will tear. Tell them how happy you were to get to know them, that you remember the conversation as pleasant, and that you would be happy to see them again soon. Of course, it is ideal if you also use this to deepen jointly planned projects.

  24. Classic network errors

  25. Think only of your own benefit.

    Beginners especially tend to do this. No sooner has contact been made than they fall through the door and want something. Bad style! Or: As soon as they have benefited from someone else's knowledge or help, turn around on their heels and leave. Anyone who acts in this way not only proves social incompetence, he also slams a door through which he may have to step again on the way up.


    Can you ask about a job at a network meeting?

    Good question. The simple answer: no. Why not?

    Very easily: They only cause bad feelings in the other person. The one or the other perhaps just wanted to maintain contacts today - and you are now causing distress and embarrassment. What should your counterpart also say? A "No, I can't help you" would be an affront. And a “yes, I'll try what I can” would be somehow mandatory.

    Plus, it only documents that you have no sensitivity for networking. Such meetings are there to either initiate or deepen contacts. It's about building trust. And to justify one's worth within the network by first trying to help others or to make contacts. Give first, then take! This is the top priority of successful networkers.

    It would therefore be much more elegant to mention that you are Reorientate your career. Please tell us why you want to change jobs and what challenges you are looking for today. Then you can always mention that you are of course for relevant information would be grateful in this regard. A recommendation - only if someone asks about you - would help.

  26. Pay attention to quantity.

    The quality of your network is not measured by the number of contacts. Rather, it is about being able to include the right people in your own network. What use are 50 different contacts to you if there is no one among them who can help you?

  27. Collect too many contacts.

    Start in good time to weight your contacts and form a kind of inner circle. Some relationships are worth investing more time and energy than others. Make sure you use your resources effectively when networking.

  28. Want to impress contacts.

    Professional contacts do not necessarily arise from the fact that you convince with top performance. Much more important is an honest and authentic interest in your counterpart, an open and friendly charisma and good manners.

  29. Turn the encounter into a sales event.

    Just don't start selling your products, services, or seminars at networking meetings. It is a mortal sin. Such a meeting is neither a sales fair nor a showroom. This is all about vitamin B, i.e. relationships with people. In addition, everyone is guaranteed to turn off when they notice that you are not interested in them at all, but only in their advantages.

  30. Don't take the time to network.

    It's one of the most common networking mistakes, and it's also a popular excuse. But please never hide behind the fact that you don't have time. It really doesn't take a lot of time to socialize. And the time you take is always well invested if the result is a functioning network.

  31. Start too late.

    The network has to be in place BEFORE you need it. Or as the bon mot puts it: You build networks when you don't need them in order to benefit from them when you need them. Only trying to get in touch when you need them urgently never works. First, because giving has to come first, and second, because people no longer meet a supplicant on an equal footing. So that diminishes your own worth to the group.

  32. Just react.

    If you always wait for others to contact you, you'll never expand your network. You have to take action yourself.

  33. Don't network at all.

    In this case there is no help.


Networking makes you feel dirty

Look around, speak to them, shake hands - that's not everyone's choice. What's more, some people find networking so uncomfortable that they really feel at home in the process feel dirty. So dirty that some even have to shower or at least wash their hands afterwards.

This is the result of, for example, a joint study by researchers from the Universities of Toronto, Harvard and Northwestern University. The scientists working with Tiziana Casciaro examined in four independent studies how the participants later responded to the Networking events remembered.

Result: The 306 respondents felt dirty, inauthentic, immoral, and uncomfortable, especially after career fairs, i.e. events that are specifically intended for networking. Quite a few had that afterwards Need to clean up. A few felt so guilty that they attended a job fair never visit again wanted to.

How to network even if you hate it

Networking can be a lot of fun. But it doesn't have to. In fact, for some, it's just plain agony to be a necessary evil.

The reasons There are many reasons for this: Shyness can play a role, as well as idiosyncratic tendencies, and reluctance after a strenuous week at work. Of course, we still recommend overcoming yourself - even if you hate networking. The The beginning is not that difficult eitheras it may appear.

Therefore, therefore and therefore:

  1. Take it easy.

    A dip in the cold water can be enormously refreshing. In other words: You don't have to jump off the 10-meter tower straight away and speak to everyone. Think carefully about what you want to achieve with the network and who can help you with it. Then slowly try to establish contact - for example with first tweets, comments on Facebook and subtle emails. Take your time - quality comes before quantity.

  2. Think of it as a game.

    Hardly anything helps to motivate yourself as well as a playful attitude. For example, plan to start a conversation with at least three interesting people at an upcoming event. It's best to share this goal with someone else and turn it into a sporting competition. Of course, this is not about the next ripper champion, but through the game you will quickly forget and overcome your shyness.

  3. Take a friend with you.

    Many do not like the idea of ​​being alone in a room full of strangers. What could be more helpful than taking a good friend or colleague with you? However, you shouldn't spend all of your time together avoiding networking. Split up during the event. This will give others the opportunity to come up to you and start a conversation.

  4. Actively listen.

    Many believe that networking is all about having an eloquent chat. Of course that's helpful. But an equally good impression is made by asking smart questions and proving to be a good listener. So listen quietly active to - for example, by repeatedly asking questions. You can be sure that it will be positively remembered.

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November 27, 2020Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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