When you think about building a network, the phrase may sound more complicated than it is. But creating a professional network doesn’t have to be complex.
In all actuality, it’s fun and straightforward! If your calendar is already jam-packed because you’re leading a busy life and incredible career, that’s great! Even if that’s the case, we still recommend taking the time to network.
Two great reasons why building your professional network should be a priority:
- To get a job in the future
- To have a competitive edge throughout your career
There’s no denying the power of improving your professional network, so let’s get to work. In this article, we discuss five secret ways to build your network. And who knows, maybe you’ll create some friendships along the way!
1. Listen to what people have to say
Sometimes the best way to make new connections is taking the time to listen.
Most people like to talk about themselves — and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Letting your new connections tell you their stories benefits you.
By listening, you can learn a great deal about a person’s experience in the industry, and it also shows them you care. To show interest, ask questions and offer to help find a solution to a problem they’re facing, if appropriate.
In turn, they’ll likely want to learn some tips from you on how to improve their careers or converse about other life topics.
Maintaining eye contact, nodding your head in acknowledgment, and not fidgeting are all ways to listen.
Get to know a person to expand your network, and you may also develop a lifelong friendship as well.
2. Create an alumni group
College (or even high school) alumni are an excellent pool from which to build your network.
To connect with alumni, consider forming a local group. If there are enough people in your area, meet with them in person If not, consider creating a Facebook group. That way where people from all parts of the world who went to your schools can connect.
Learning about what everyone does for a living is a lot of fun and can offer many benefits.
For example, if you have a question on how to handle a sticky work situation, they can likely help you through it.
Plus, it’ll also provide the opportunity for you to reconnect with friends from the past!
3. Stay current in your field
As you continue to network, don’t forget the importance of staying current with the industry’s latest happenings.
Follow key players on social media
Do you know the influencers in your industry?
If you don’t, hop online and do some research. Read blogs or join social media groups related to your industry.
Connect with the top bloggers via their blog, followed by clicking on their social media profiles such as Facebook or LinkedIn. Find out who’s who in your industry on Twitter and start following and interacting.
Or, you can also search using hashtags on Instagram to pull up people in your industry.
Subscribe to newsletters
Subscribe to industry newsletters but don’t allow them to get buried in your email. Make a point to read them once a week or once a day, depending on your schedule.
If something resonates with you, don’t be afraid to respond to the newsletter via email. Many times someone from the business or author will write back. If that happens, you might have yet another incredible person to add to your network!
Read well-known news sites
Also, make a point to hop on websites such as The Huffington Post. If you read an article related to your line of work, you can check out the author at the end.
Many times, the writer has social links below their bio!
Stay current with what’s happening in your field, and it’ll be much easier to find something to converse about during your next event.
Plus, your knowledge will help you strike up meaningful conversations about industry news and topics.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Another way to add to your network is by asking people in your existing circle to refer you to others.
Don’t be shy — they’re probably happy to help!
In conversation, mention that you’re happy to talk about their success to others, and in return, they’ll do the same for you.
5. Make new friends outside networking events
Making new friends and adding them to your network may seem obvious.
But are you only be thinking about going to career-related events to network?
While that certainly works, why not try making new friends outside of “serious” networking events?
By being social, you’ll learn about your line of work and other professions and thus, build a network.
Here are a few creative ways to grow your social circle:
- Go to a meetup
- Start or join a book club
- Join a softball team (or other sports team)
- Hang out at “social” areas at your apartment complex such as a clubhouse or bowling alley (Yes, some apartments have this!)
- If you have a dog, take him or her to the dog park and socialize with other dog owners
Even if you make new acquaintances that don’t fit in with your line of work, you never know who they know!
Networking is a fun experience, so be fearless and make new connections.
When you do network, be authentic. Share your professional dreams, wins, and knowledge with people in your industry while always being yourself. When something comes up, you’ll be remembered for something you truly value. Those are the best opportunities!
We’re naturally social beings, which is why it’s essential to take the time to socialize.
Whether you attend networking events or meet people online, there are endless ways to start your networking quest.
Now get going on your networking journey! It’s time to look forward to creating meaningful connections and learn knowledge in your field along the way.
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