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Opinion: Five timeless techniques for networking success

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In today’s interconnected business landscape, networking isn’t just a skill that’s nice to have; it’s a necessity for professional growth and success. Yet, for many, the idea of networking can evoke feelings of discomfort or reluctance. However, embracing networking – even if it’s out of your comfort zone – can open doors to invaluable opportunities and connections that will advance your career or business.

Finding the right networking group can transform your experience into something truly rewarding. By aligning with groups that cater to your interests and goals, you’ll discover a supportive community where networking feels less like a chore and more like a natural extension of your professional journey. To make the most of this opportunity, it’s essential to approach networking with an open mind and a willingness to engage authentically.

Start by exploring professional associations relevant to your interests or field of expertise. These organizations often host regular networking events, seminars and conferences tailored to specific sectors, providing plenty of opportunities to connect with like-minded professionals. Additionally, consider joining online networking platforms and communities, where you can interact with individuals from diverse backgrounds and industries. LinkedIn is, of course, the best-known and perhaps most widely used online networking tool, but it’s not the only one.  Reddit and Facebook Groups provide platforms for individuals with similar interests or professions to connect and collaborate within specific communities. Look for online groups that dive into niches where you already do business or are looking to do more. Local business chambers, meetups and networking events are also valuable resources for expanding your network. It may seem old-school, but there’s still no substitute for building trust with face-to-face connections.

Here are five timeless principles that can help you enhance your engagement with others:

  1. Listen to understand. Effective networking begins with the art of listening. Be curious. Within networking groups, make it a priority to actively listen to the experiences, perspectives and needs of fellow participants. Instead of focusing on sharing your own agenda, take the time to truly understand the challenges, aspirations and goals of others. One of the best tips I have received from mentors at my firm is, “Notice what is not being said, and be aware of tone and body language.”
  2. Be responsive. Responsiveness is important in developing relationships and seizing opportunities within networking groups. Whether it’s promptly following up on introductions, responding to questions or offering support, being responsive demonstrates your reliability and commitment as a partner. Stay engaged with group discussions, contribute valuable insights and seek opportunities to assist others. By prioritizing responsiveness, you reinforce your reputation as a dependable and supportive member of the networking community.
  3. Be bold. To stand out in networking groups, embrace boldness in your interactions and initiatives. Don’t be afraid to share your unique perspectives, ideas and aspirations. Take proactive steps to initiate conversations, propose collaborations and explore innovative opportunities. By daring to step outside your comfort zone, you position yourself as a dynamic and influential presence within the group, inspiring others with your forward vision and innovative spirit.
  4. Build meaningful connections. In networking groups, it’s always quality over quantity when it comes to building connections. Prioritize cultivating meaningful relationships based on shared interests, values, and goals. Invest time in getting to know fellow members on a deeper level, beyond surface-level introductions. Engage in authentic conversations, express genuine interest in others’ success and explore opportunities for collaboration and mutual support. By building trust within the group, you pave the way for long-lasting professional relationships that can lead to valuable opportunities and partnerships.
  5. Embrace diversity and inclusion. Diversity and inclusion are essential elements of vibrant networking groups. Seek out opportunities to engage with individuals from different industries, cultures and backgrounds. By advocating for an inclusive environment that celebrates diversity, you improve the networking experience for all members, advancing innovation, creativity and collective growth.

Your networks matter. Active participation in networking groups offers countless opportunities for professional advancement and growth. As you utilize the collective wisdom and resources within your networking groups, you will discover new pathways to success and prosperity in your professional journey.

Angela McLaughlin is a managing consultant with the commercial products practice of FORVIS in Springfield. She can be reached at


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