Hubspot has a fantastic 2019 article titled "The ultimate guide to non-awkward networking". There are 6 key steps:
- Come prepared with a clear goal in mind.
- Have some relevant conversation starters.
- Introduce yourself to someone who is a bigger deal than you.
- Ask people questions about themselves.
- Ask for what you want, but be clear it's mutually beneficial.
- Exit a conversation gracefully.
Founder Institute has an older article from 2015 that provides practical tips on how to network effectively. It outlines 9 steps to effective networking:
- Start with a strategy.
- Get out there.
- Be present: Quality over quantity.
- Give, give, give, ask.
- Seek leadership opportunities.
- Foster partnerships
- Be patient.
- Use social media.
- Find a "cheerleader".
Pay special attention to Tip #4: "Give, give, give, ask" - effective networking is about paying it forward. First learn what the other person needs or wants, and try to help them. Then put forward your ask (such as, "who else at your company do you think I should talk to?"