For a lot of people, the idea of networking causes instant anxiety and dread because if not done properly, it can feel forced and uncomfortable. However, making professional connections is key to furthering your career and expanding your network. The cliché, “it’s not what you know, but who you know” does in fact ring partially true. Networking is important because it opens doors for you, so in today’s blog, we will look at some ways to develop your network.
Learn New Skills
An organic and natural way to expand your network is to learn new skills. Think about it. If you’re taking evening classes at a local college, doing a training for something in your field, or getting a certification, you’ll be meeting new people. Basically, mastering your craft will help you build connections.
Helping others not only feels good but it can also further your career. However, don’t help out only with the intention of getting something in return because it will come across as transactional. Do something that’s meaningful to you with the intention of giving back more than you expect to receive. Some ways to do this is by volunteering at events or causes that are in your work wheelhouse and are of interest to you. You’ll meet people along the way and if you go with the intention of helping out, it will come across as much more sincere and meaningful than going in with the intention of solely getting something out of it.
Use Social Media
Social media, and specifically sites like LinkedIn, are a great way to network. Like the tip above, one way to increase your network (even online) is to focus on what you can bring to the table and the value you offer. Think about posting interesting articles or writing your own. It’s important to maintain an active presence on LinkedIn by engaging with content and others frequently. Here’s another tip: While you may be tempted to connect with strangers on LinkedIn that you think could help further your career, a better approach would actually be to re-connect with those you’re already connected to. If it’s been a few years and you’ve lost touch with a previous co-worker, reach out to them again and see how they are doing and what’s going on with their career. As people go on and expand their careers, they may be able to introduce you to others that would be helpful in furthering yours.
Attend Events You’re Interested In
Build a network by being social and connect with others over a shared interest. As more in-person events open up, think about joining an event that you’re interested in. Some ways to find a meeting in your area is through sites like:
- Chamber Of Commerce
When meeting people at events, don’t worry about what you’ll get out of a conversation but instead let the conversation flow naturally. At these events you’ll be meeting others with a shared interest which will help the conversation feel a lot more natural and comfortable.