Staying Connected: How to Network Like a Pro

By : Emily Schaper

When it comes to opening new doors and opportunities, networking should be a top priority.  It’s not just about trading information, but establishing long-term relationships with mutual benefits.  Networking, however, may not be at the top of everyone’s to-do list.  People may find it time-consuming, awkward, or out of their comfort zone.  This can be understandable if you already have a lot on your plate and the last thing you want to do is make small talk with strangers.  Although, if you don’t take the time to prioritize networking throughout your career, you may miss out on some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

Now, you may be wondering how to become an effective networker.  Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be expanding your professional network in no time!

Find Your Networking Style

Now, you may be wondering how to become an effective networker.  First, you need to determine what style works best for you.  If you are energized by being around people, for example, you could network at a large social gathering instead of just one-on-one.  Be aware, however, Covid-19 may alter these plans.  Organizations are utilizing Zoom, so if you happen to enjoy engaging with others online, this could potentially help a lot.

Network Outside the Box

Second, don’t be afraid to network outside the box.  Think of events and organizations to attend that you otherwise wouldn’t consider.  Sometimes, being able to volunteer around people of similar interests is enough to advance your career.  It’ll show you really value helping others and have a passion to learn new skills/abilities.  

Do Your Research

Don’t forget to do your research before you connect with someone.  It’ll help the conversation flow better if there’s a base understanding of their interests, education, work history, and more.  Plus, it’ll show you genuinely care and respect the other person.  They’ll remember that about you later on.

Don’t Forget to Follow Up

Next, always follow up.  The time you invest in speaking with someone won’t benefit your personal and professional development if you fail to follow up afterward.  This can easily be done by utilizing social media platforms, such as LinkedIn.  Just sending short, personalized messages helps differentiate you from other individuals.  According to Deena Baikowitz, chief networking officer and co-founder of Fireball Network, “The worst networking mistake you can make is not trying at all.”  

Pass It On

Last, but certainly not least, don’t be afraid to pass it on.  If you have the opportunity to help someone who has taken time to reach out to you, act upon it.  Your referral has a lot of power and can help them land a job.  You were once in their shoes and what goes around comes around.

Utilizing these tips will set you apart from others in the long run.  Remember, if you’re not stepping out of your comfort zone, then you’re not growing.  Now’s the time to reach out and stay connected.

Resources

https://www.forbes.com/sites/biancamillercole/2019/03/20/why-networking-should-be-at-the-core-of-your-career/?sh=1c2d1e181300

https://www.michaelpage.com.au/advice/career-advice/career-progression/benefits-networking

https://www.topresume.com/career-advice/importance-of-networking-for-career-success

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