Ellie Hutchison offers 4 effective tips to help you grow your personal and professional networks.
We all know networking is an essential and valuable way to advance your career, but how exactly do you network? The concept of “networking” can be intimidating at times, as it often involves putting yourself out there. Still, it’s worth it because it is one of the best and quickest ways to find new opportunities and ultimately get you where you want to go.
Here are four simple tips for growing your network:
1. Utilize social media
Social media is one of the best ways to maintain, grow, and stay in touch with your network.
- Establish a presence online. Use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging, and other tools to connect with people. It’s becoming increasingly important to be active online, and it is one of the easiest ways to expand your network.
- Increase your influence. Klout tracks your “influence” on a scale of 1-100, and it can help you become more strategic when using social media.
- Follow up. If you meet someone and want to further a relationship by requesting them on LinkedIn, include a personal message. Especially if they are really busy or have influence, this will help you stand out and become memorable.
- Be intentional. Cultivate relationships with current coworkers and keep in touch with former coworkers, professors, mentors, etc. LinkedIn is great for this. You never know when those relationships could open doors for you, or when you’d be able to help another person find a new opportunity.
- Follow and engage with people you meet, or with people you want to meet through Twitter and Facebook. Retweet them, tweet them, ask questions, and put yourself on their radar.
2. Act accordingly
Some things go without saying, but here is some basic networking etiquette:
- Let your “yes” be a “yes.” If you offer to do something or make a promise, then follow through. Prove that you’re dependable and trustworthy. If you aren’t able to do a task, then say so. Being honest is better than being unreliable.
- Be self-aware. First impressions are lasting impressions, so be conscientious about sending the right message.
- Make people’s lives easier, not more stressful or more difficult.
- Be professional, but still let your personality shine. Dulling yourself down will not make you memorable.
- Give people your undivided attention. Don’t text or check your email distractedly while you’re with others. (However, this should be a rule for all relationships, right?)
- Reply quickly. Being timely in responding to calls and emails is one way to be courteous.
3. Attend events
I found my past two summer jobs by attending local events and introducing myself to people whose jobs intrigued me. Events are a great and informal way to meet people who share your passions and career interests.
- Keep your eyes open for local events (professional or not) such as conferences or workshops. Attend events that interest you, and while you’re there, strike up conversations with others. You may find a new friend, or a new volunteer or work opportunity.
- Attend industry events. Any and all you can manage!
- Plan your own get-togethers. Invite coworkers and other friends to a gathering where you can mingle, swap ideas, and become more connected.
- If you meet someone who has experience in an area that interests you, ask them to grab lunch to learn more about it. Forming a relationship will help you learn more about the type of work you may be interested in, and it also helps establish connections with people who may connect you to others in the future, or vice versa.
4. Show gratitude
Being grateful will take you far in relationships, and this is especially important to keep in mind when networking.
- Show others that you value their time by making it as convenient as possible for them to meet with you. Prioritizing others’ needs and schedules above yours is a practical way to show appreciation.
- If someone invites you to a lunch, event or networking party, show your appreciation by attending and taking full advantage of the opportunity.
- If someone takes the time to meet with you or invites you to a networking event, send them a thank you. It’s a small act that will go a long way.
Written by Ellie Hutchison
This blog post is from the Author's perspective and doesn't speak for brightpeak financial. Contact brightpeak if you want to know more about brightpeak products, and keep in mind that they are not available in all states and there are some limitations (some exclusions and restrictions may apply).