5 Development Tips for Young Professionals

By: Mike Cavanaugh

Experience and proficiency in networking can only be gained by actually getting out there and doing it. That being said, there are ways for young professionals to prepare themselves for the world of business development. Successful networking is like anything else you have ever done. In order to get better you have to set goals, monitor your results and refine your techniques to get better.

Utilize these tips in order to build confidence that you are going about things the right way in your initial forays into networking and business development.

Form Relationships
Strong networkers have a mindset that focuses on what they can do for someone else more than thinking what that person can do for you. By keeping with this thought process, you become posed as a valuable and reliable contact. Do not approach people with the idea that “I’m here for this, and looking for that.” It is not so much about acquiring clients as much as it is about building relationships. Meet people with a genuine approach of helping them find what they need. This altruistic nature will resonate with everyone you meet and make them more likely to try and help you get business.

Strategic Partnership
Identify the handful of individuals in the room responsible for the event and introduce yourself. Forming relationships with these people and informing them of your interests will give you the inside track to other networking events and the numerous contacts within them. Another avenue that can prove extremely beneficial, is finding a strong networker to show you the ropes and expand your secondary network tenfold.

Effective Communication
Be specific in your communication and avoid generalities. If you say your clients are small businesses, the person you are talking to probably knows a lot of small businesses and may not know where to start in connecting you with one. Think of an industry or vertical you have multiple clients in, or a vertical you are looking to expand when explaining what your target market is. An example of this could be, “We work with many small businesses, but currently we are expanding our reach in the medical industry, specifically we are noticing an underserved market in dental offices. If you know of any dentists or other companies that work with dentists that would benefit from a service we provide, that would be a great connection for me.” Now they are going to think specifically and you have given them a definition of a good connection; this should help increase the probabilities of them actually making a connection for you.

Stay Polished
Staying polished goes beyond dressing the part; cross all t’s and dot all i’s, be polite and interested during networking events despite having a long day or anticipating an arduous business meeting. As a young professional or recent grad, it is important to make sure you stay polished in every sense of the phrase. While businessmen and women recognize that you are new to the game, it can still be difficult to overcome a poor first impression. You are casting a large net and growing your network, the more people who see you in a positive light, the stronger your chances of building your contact list.

Follow Up
When beginning to network you will start to pass around your card, and likewise, take any card given to you. Meeting and greeting this many individuals can become overwhelming, but take a step up into the big leagues by making a point to remember specifics about the good conversations you had. When you have a few key contacts that you want to stay in touch with, show initiative. Never assume a contact will reach out to you. Be proactive and take the first step. Calling or emailing people with a personal note about your conversation is a great way to get out there in a positive way.