When you hear the word “networking,” do you get a bit nervous? Do your palms begin to sweat uncontrollably? Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Networking can be intimidating for many of us, but it does get easier over time and with practice! While you may feel awkward talking to someone you just met, remember that these connections can yield impressive benefits, such as professional referrals or job offers. Networking is all about getting out of your head, your comfort zone, and believing you can do it.
While lots of us are working in a remote capacity, how does the “networking” puzzle piece come into play? There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, so we’ve rounded up our top 4 networking outlets you can tap into and continue growing your web of connections.
1. Virtual events
Taking advantage of virtual events – such as through professional clubs – is an excellent place to start. Networking events like these generally incorporate some activity level to ignite engagements and conversations among hosts and participants. Local industry networking groups also host virtual events. You can mingle and collaborate with professionals in your industry, learn or expand on relevant topics, and network – an easy win-win. For example, if you work in the technology industry, Women in Technology International and their regional network groups are both strong and vast resources when it comes to networking. (Tip: You can easily search for industry groups in your area on LinkedIn by selecting the “Groups” filter under the search bar.)
2. Social media
Yes, social media may sound like an obvious outlet. Yes, social media – especially LinkedIn – is a leading medium for networking and connecting with industry experts. What you might be missing is the power of engagement that can take place on social platforms. Instead of posting your curated content, try engaging with other people’s posts. Thoughtful comments can add to the discussion and keep the engagement ball rolling. Your attentive comments are likely to be read and seen as beneficial, which will help industry professionals remember who you are. The opportunities are endless. After all, you can’t ignore the social part of social media.
3. Alumni association
We briefly highlighted connecting with your alumni contacts in a recent blog post, and we continue to stress how meaningful these connections are. While you might tend to “trash” emails you receive from your alumni association, you could be missing out on opportunities to connect with new people. Simply put, they’re all people you already share a common thread with (your alma mater). So, rather than tuning out these online discussions or communications, become a little more active in your alumni community, or even attend a virtual event to meet new people.
4. Family members
While it’s great to network with people with whom you have an existing bond, remember that this is just as much about business as it is about family. If you tap into your family network for mutual connections, informational interviews, or job referrals, it’s still a professional relationship. And professional relationships are a two-way street. Consider the benefit for your family member if they help you and how you can return the favor. Traditional networking is all about mutual gain, and there are lots of ways to add value to your family member’s career; consider your expertise and professional connections.
Networking can be a challenge for a lot of us, but it just takes practice. By expanding your web of connections, you’ll grow both personally and professionally.
Follow along for our next blog in this series where we’ll take a deep dive into how to ask and prep for informational interviews!
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