By: Stephanie Hayman, Marketing Manager at TSYS
Networking in the business world is a lot like dating in the personal scope: You’re uncovering the layers of individuals you meet in different locations and building a rapport that may be deemed short-lived or long-lasting. Unfortunately, many people find it to be forced or akin to quick speed dating-like conversation, resulting in a pocketed business card and a mentally bookmarked LinkedIn request.
Despite networking’s preconceived notion of feeling contrived, there is nothing in the business world [or world as a whole for that matter] that will be more important than relationship building. Connecting with people authentically and having meaningful conversation is a key link that will always propel you forward.
That guy in line ahead of you at Starbucks? He could be a top leader in your industry. The girl who is taking her sweet time checking out at Marshall’s? She could be an intern potentially rising in the ranks at your current company. You never know who is around you at all times, so be aware. Always have a positive, friendly attitude and make sure you are emanating good vibes. The best connections can be built in the most unlikely of places.
Never Burn A Bridge.
You never know when relationships from a previous life could help impact your future in significant ways. People don’t stay at organizations forever, and neither will you. I still keep in touch with the supervisors from my very first internship; I text my previous bosses from time to time to say hi; the realtor who sold my fiancé and I our home even connect with each other to chat about the market and mutually beneficial connections. Past experiences that you have had in any neck of the woods will be inevitably categorized as favorable or unfavorable, but that doesn’t mean that the personal interaction and the relationships you worked hard to build won’t be beneficial in the future.
Be Brave and Reach Out.
There is no harm in proactively facilitating a connection. Sometimes, I engage in random conversations when I’m food shopping. I like meeting up with my old college professors for coffee every so often. I’m the queen of reaching out to people via LinkedIn and Instagram if I find their article, story, or overall brand persona impactful. What is the worst part of reaching out? Answer: Not getting a response back. That’s the worst thing! When in doubt, put yourself out there and be courageous in building connections. Half the time, you will be pleasantly surprised in the end result.
The moral of the story is, when it comes to networking, both virtually and physically, putting in the work is always worth it.