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Aim higher – how to network your way to even more senior connections

02 Jul 2015 by Sarah Leembruggen.

No one will deny that networking is one of the best ways to make contacts that may be valuable for your business.  But if you aim to network with even more senior people, you will make contacts that will specifically drive your success upward. By meeting the top players in your industry, you will strengthen your desire to join their ranks and fuel your all-round sense of happiness – after all, it’s a positive and energising experience to bounce ideas around with a group of the top go-getters in your field.

Of course, connecting with the biggest names in your industry is no easy task.  Here are seven simple tactics you can put to use in your quest to ‘network up’ – just one or two might be all you need to fast-track you to some top-tier contacts.

1. Identify your targets

Be crystal clear about who it is you really want to connect with. Who inspires you? Who are the star players in your industry? Who could be a real game-changer to you and your career? Remember you want to surround yourself with positive, like-minded people, but set the bar high.

2. Have something to offer

Networking is a give-and-take process, especially when you're aiming high. Senior contacts have something to offer you, but the question is: What can you offer them?  Think how you can add value to what they do without asking for anything in return.

3. Be scared (well, just a little bit…)

If you don’t feel a little anxious about reaching out to someone, then you're not aiming high enough. Channel your fear of rejection to push yourself towards the more senior connections. And remember, like anything in life, networking – whoever it’s with – becomes easier with practice. Don't let fear hold you back.

4. Invite yourself!

When someone mentions an event that sounds interesting and highbrow, be bold and say that you would love to attend!  Follow up with an email reiterating your interest and you’ll probably secure yourself an invite.  Send a handwritten note afterwards, as this is far more memorable than an email. Once you are on their mailing list, you are often automatically invited back for future events – a winning result!

5. Stay in touch

Once you've made initial contact, it's all about building and nurturing the relationship. Send your new contact an email every four to six weeks – but make sure that the content is worth reading and beneficial to your new contact.  They won’t want to hear about what you did at the weekend so make sure that you're up-to-date on the latest industry news and focus on the areas that are most likely to interest them.  Attach interesting articles, videos or podcasts to your email – this will show a more personal touch and add value to your relationship.

6. Jog your contact's memory

At any one networking event, it’s likely that you'll meet dozens of people and come away with a stack of business cards, and so will your new contacts.  So don’t expect them to remember your name and your business when you make the first contact.  Make sure that you mention where you met, what you talked about, and most importantly, who you are.

7. Arrange a follow-up

This can be a face-to-face meeting, a request for some information about something that was mentioned at the networking event or simply meeting up for coffee or lunch.

8. Strike a pose

To really fine-tune your preparation, try doing two minutes of ‘power posing’ – watch Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk for the poses, which have been shown to increase confidence and enhance performance when faced with challenging situations.

So next time you go to a networking event, think about the people in your industry who seem out of reach but have the potential to give you a huge boost. Then, ask yourself what you can do for them. Once you can answer that question, you’re ready to go and say ‘Hi.’ And don't worry if you're nervous. That's a sign that you're aiming in the right direction.

Has networking helped you move your career forward?  We’d love to hear.

The Works specialise in placing high flyers in PR and corporate communications. We have a strong track record of placing with professional services and offer career-making advice. Do get in touch if you would like our support building your team.

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