CREATE STRONG CONNECTIONS
What is Networking?
Networking is all about making new connections and building relationships with people so you can learn more about your career path, your profession, and your industry. The connections you make can give you advice, connect you to other people, help you on your career path, and even open the door to other opportunities. You can network with people one-on-one or in a group setting.
Keep in mind that networking is a skill to be learned. With time, patience, and practice, you can become great at networking and build a strong circle of connections.
How to Start Networking
Create a list of contacts - Start with your friends, former or current educators (teachers, professors, guidance counselors, etc.), community leaders, like youth or caseworkers, former colleagues, and anyone that you have or can get contact information for.
Ask for suggestions to increase your network - After you have created your list of contacts, start connecting. Once you contact someone on your list, ask if they know anyone else that you can talk to about your career goals. Add them to your contact list as well.
Use social media and the web - To find other contacts that you would like to know more about, use your LinkedIn, Twitter, or website profiles. Try commenting on a link they post or respond to a comment they write on social. Remember to be professional and update your social media channels first.
Types of Networking Activities
Information Interviews - One of the most popular and easy ways to network is to ask for an “information interview” with a contact. This is an informal conversation to learn more about a specific job, a career path, or the industry itself.
Networking Events - Either virtual or in-person, networking events can include industry-specific seminars, career fairs, conference or trade shows, speed networking, community service groups, and more.
LinkedIn Groups - These are places on LinkedIn that provide a place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to share content, find answers, post and view jobs, and make contacts.
networking DO'S and Don'TS
Create or update your LinkedIn profile – Over 90% of recruiters will Google you, so having a professional LinkedIn profile is an important way for you to stand out.
Ask for advice reviewing your resume – If you are just starting out in your career, have someone look at your resume, and ask them for a sample resume you can reference.
Be an active listener – If you are engaged in the conversation, the person you are connecting with will be more willing to help you with your goals. Ask some questions too.
Follow-up with a thank you– This small gesture goes a long way. Follow-up in an email or a message to thank them for their time. Highlight key takeaways as well.
Don’t go into the conversation unprepared – Make sure you have read their bio or “About” section on their LinkedIn profile and have a list of questions you would like to ask.
Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself – Make the most of your experience and start a conversation. At an in-person or virtual event, simply start with "Hi. How are you enjoying the event?"
Don’t ask for a job – The purpose of networking is to expand your circle of contacts. If you make a good impression, the contact may remember you for future job opportunities.
Don’t write long introduction emails or messages – Keep your communication short and simple. Make sure you are specific about what you’d like to know and put important information first.