Building a network should be fun, not time-consuming chore
Toronto immigration lawyer Andrew Carvajal says networking should be viewed as building mutually beneficial relationships with others to increase exposure to information and opportunities rather than an opportunity to sell yourself.
Carvajal, a partner with Desloges Law Group and president of the Canadian Colombian Professional Association (CCPA), recently spoke at the opening of the 2016 Mentoring Program. The program, which had more than 80 participants, was organized by the CCPA and Hispanotech.
He acknowledges that networking events can be awkward, but they become easier if you do your research and plan ahead.
“Get there early and a pick strategic location like next to the bar,” he advises.
Other tips include putting your phone away, invite others to join your conversation and introduce people who may benefit from getting to know each other.
When talking with others, make eye contact, smile and listen carefully, he suggests. “Don’t be afraid to reveal something personal and interesting when networking with others. Similarly, don't fear controversial topics.”
He says the following feel-good questions are excellent icebreakers and show you have a genuine interest in the other person:
- How did you get into this business?
- What do you enjoy the most?
- What advice would you give someone just starting in the business?
- What separates you from your competitors?
- What one thing would you do if you knew it wouldn't fail?
- What significant changes have you taken in your business?
- What are some coming trends?
- What ways have you found effective at promoting your business?
- What one sentence can be used to describe your business?
Just as important as creating an initial connection with others is your follow up, Carvajal says.
“Follow up the same or next day when possible with a quick email, phone call, or thank-you card. Send articles, news or leads that may be of interest or about topics you discussed,” he says. “You should also connect on LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media.”
He says building a network should be fun, not time consuming or restricted to work-related events.
“Networking can happen anywhere and at any time,” Carvajal says. “Activities like playing tennis, squash, golf, wine/cooking classes, sporting events and sitting on boards are all opportunities to expand your network. You can even expense some of these activities.”
Carvajal is also a board member of the CCPA, which provides opportunities for Hispanic professionals to develop their careers through mentoring programs, seminars, events and networking activities across multiple industries and professions. To learn more, click here.