Good networking is a commitment: one must be all-in to really reap the benefits. As such, it can seem a bit exhaustive. The key is to not just to network more, but to network smarter. Utilizing your own network creates more opportunities and provides greater advantages to both parties. Below are a few tips to make your networking effective and more valuable to you.

  1. It is easier to maintain a handful of strong relationships than lots of casual acquaintances. Establish connections with people who know lots of other people who could be recommended to you. A strong direct network means that your indirect network can be just as good as knowing the contact directly.
  2. Develop particularly strong connections with people in your field. By talking with people in your industry, you have the chance to learn from their mistakes and avoid them yourself. It also gives you a think tank where you can present your problems and get help from the people in your network.
  3. Use all your resources. Attending events and meeting new people is as valuable as ever. It should, however, be used in conjunction with social media in order to maximize your chances of making good contacts.
  4. Study your contacts before you meet with them. If they or their company has a blog, read it to understand their challenges and goals. Check their social media as well to stay up-to-date. Coming prepared helps you to maximize your time with your contact and helps you both to be of greater help to one another.
  5. Once contacts are made, maintain them. This makes it easier for you to help one another well as helps you to understand the resources and connections that your contact could make available to you.
  6. Schedule time to network, since you’re much more likely to do something if it’s on a calendar. Set aside time each week to reach out to your network to keep those contacts current. You’re also more likely to get a response if you take the initiative in contacting them first.

Good networking doesn’t need to take up all your time. Developing a stronger, more relevant network and working hard to maintain those contacts is of greater benefit to both parties and provides more indirect contacts. Don’t just network more. Network smarter.