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Link and build: 5 ways how to improve your networking game

Networking is necessary; especially if you’re a creative, entrepreneur or artist. Not only do you want to surround yourself with like-minded individuals, the hard honest truth is that you’re going to need help.

There is always more to know, different experiences to learn and points of views to attain from one another. Networking allows us to strengthen our community fellow creatives who we can either collaborate with or admire and support from afar.

The issue, however, is nurturing these relationships in the most organic way possible.

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Some cringe when they hear “networking” because it’s viewed as forced communication and awkward small talk, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Believe it or not, networking can be an enjoyable non-forced encounter where you simply find other irons to sharpen your iron with.

With these five tips of perspective, you can enhance your networking savvy and uncover the opportunities you’ve always been looking for.

Network across

It’s natural to look up to those more successful than us when it comes to networking. They’ve been places you haven’t done what you want to do, why wouldn’t they be the best candidates to build?

Well, contrary to popular thought, there’s more to be gained with those who are on our same level.

In a NewsOne interview with actress, writer, director, and producer Issa Rae, of the HBO hit series Insecure, she speaks on the importance of connecting with people on your level as opposed to always looking to reach for the people ahead.

Who’s next to you? Who’s struggling? Who’s in the trenches with you? Who’s just as hungry as you are? And those are the people that you need to build with,” she continued.

It’s different when you’re figuring it out with someone and building it rather than being brought in on something that’s already established.

That’s the experience you get when you’re building across, rather than from above.

Follow up

A basic yet often looked over trait to have in networking is the decency of following up. It goes both ways: you follow up with the people who reach out to you and you follow up with the people who you said you reach out to.

Without asking for anything, you can make yourself familiar or even show professionalism by simply following up after meeting or exchanging contact information.

Collaborate to serve others

A lot of times we want to connect, exchange information and borrow someone’s time with absolutely nothing to offer.

You are not ready to network if there is not a service that you can provide that would be beneficial to the other party, yet so many of us want to build with visions and ideas alone.

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It’s a self-check that ensures you have done and are doing work that is at least comparable to your peers and it also means you’re ready at all times for any opportunity that may come your way.

You never want to tell someone that you’ve yet to acquire a skillset.

Be approachable

Networking is easier for everyone when you’re someone who’s approachable. Approachable doesn’t have to mean in formal wear, drenched in cologne or having the most articulate tongue. Approachable simply means being yourself and showing it.

Whether you’re interning at an office or at an event, if you find a way to present who you are, there’s going to be someone who’s interested in seeing what you can offer to their team. Everyone is looking for something they don’t have, and one day, for someone, it just may be you.

Be sincere and authentic

When you do network with someone you should strive for honesty at all times. It’s not only the foundation of every successful union but it’s great for business.

When you’re honest on all front it lets other people know where you stand, whether they agree with you or not. And being honest doesn’t necessarily mean being someone’s yes-man either.

When you’re through, you’re letting people know how you feel instead of holding it in, you move with integrity and you let your word be your word. That’s who people gravitate to work with and that’s how you get things done.

No one should cringe at the thought of networking. It’s should be looked at as an opportunity to expand your brand and main gains in your field. And if you incorporate these five tips, you will.