Networking Tips: How to Network Effectively


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Networking Tips for Building Your Network

Building a network can be a difficult task. Depending on your position, you may not get many opportunities to talk to people outside your office. However, building your network is important regardless of your field. It may seem daunting, but there are a variety of ways to make new, valuable contacts. Below, we’ll go over networking tips to help you meet new people and build your network.

Your network can be a lifesaver if you find yourself between jobs or need someone to help you with a project. Notably, up to 80% of jobs are filled through network connections. You won’t even see most open positions online, even with avid job hunting. Rather, most of them are filled quietly in-house.

You’ve likely heard people say you need to know someone to break into certain industries. But this is true for many positions. There are careers out there you likely never knew existed. Also, some employers create brand new jobs for specific individuals.

Before we get into our networking tips, let’s look at the benefits you can get out of networking.

Benefits of Networking

Build Your Career

In addition to being a great way to find a new job, your network can help you advance in your career. Knowing the right people can help you rise through the ranks. For example, a highly respected colleague can recommend you for your dream job. Additionally, if people know your name and know you as a hard worker, they’re more likely to consider you for promotions.

On the other hand, networking outside your office can make you a valuable employee. If you bring in contracts or clients, you may develop strong relationships with them. As a result, if you leave your firm for another, your clients might choose to follow. Employers know and respect this. Furthermore, the more clients you bring in, the more revenue your company creates. Thus, your supervisors can easily track your success.

Learn New Skills

Additionally, you can learn new skills through your network. Consider one of your contacts posts a link to a training video or an article. Maybe they invite you to a class or share their tips and tricks. Networks are great for sharing knowledge.

Similarly, your network helps you follow industry trends. When you have diverse connections, they’ll likely post or share diverse content. For example, some may share marketing trends while others post major news stories. Either way, you can find out what’s happening through your network.

Also, you might find a mentor or even your own apprentice. Obviously, you can benefit from having a mentor, but teaching others comes with rewards. For example, practicing and explaining concepts also helps to improve your understanding. You’ll also enhance your leadership skills. Basically, mentoring helps both the mentor and mentee, and your network can provide you with the opportunity.

Expand Your Horizons

Finally, a network gives you access to a group of skilled and diverse individuals. As such, you can use your connections for assistance. Perhaps you have a project and need outside resources. Maybe you need a consultant to figure out a problem or train your staff. Whatever your needs, you can build a network of people who can make your day easier.

Just know that they’ll need assistance as well. Helping out means better relationships, possible partnerships, and maybe the chance to make money on the side.

Where to Network

So, where do you meet people to build your network? Honestly, you can find quality connections anywhere. You may even run into someone at your local café or bookstore. If you open yourself up to the world, you can meet interesting people.

Below, we’ve listed our networking tips for the top five places to build your network.

Top 5 Places to Build Your Network

1. Work

The most obvious place to connect to more people in your field is your work. Even within your company, you can build diverse connections. Branch out from your department and start building your network.

You don’t have to utilize the water cooler like in the past. If you’re shy or awkward or don’t know how to start a conversation with someone, consider connecting on social media. Many people use or have created accounts on LinkedIn. Most wouldn’t question receiving an invite from a coworker.

This way, you can build up the confidence to have conversations with them. Additionally, if they’re active on the platform, both of you can benefit from each other’s posts.

To maintain coworkers as a part of your network, you’ll need to build relationships. No one will write reference letters, recommend you for jobs, or send you articles if you’re a stranger on the internet. You don’t need to be friends with everyone but consider who you can help and who can help you.

Mutually beneficial relationships will boost your career and help you the most in the future. Thus, focus on building these connections. It’s good to know people who can help you. However, relationships last longer when you can provide something in return.

On another note, more experienced coworkers may be able to share some of their knowledge and help you meet important people in your field. This information can be especially helpful if you’re new to the field or office. Considering asking for networking tips.

2. Social Media

On the topic of LinkedIn, social media is invaluable nowadays for networking. Indeed, it’s the easiest place to meet groups of like-minded people. LinkedIn especially helps you create valuable connections.

Many networking tips articles encourage everyone to get on LinkedIn. Truly, as with much of the world, networking has gone digital. Especially during the pandemic, events and groups went to the internet to keep running. Even if you don’t choose LinkedIn, you should to build your network online.

Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram can also help, but they’re not designed specifically for networking. There’s a lot of distracting, false, and even offensive material. Honestly, you should consider that any post or offer you see online could be a scam. Thus, regardless of your platform, make sure you’re staying safe. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

However, the benefits outweigh the risks when it comes to networking. Often, the largest problem online is that many people are looking for passive connections rather than active ones. In other words, they want to add you, but they’re not interested in conversations or relationships.

As long as you’re working on building an active network through posts and messages, you can create a strong online presence that comes with amazing benefits.

3. Events

You can find excellent connections through events. Whether you’re attending a work-related or specialized event, you’ll meet many like-minded people. If you’re a seminar, training, or trade show related to your field, you’ll find individuals who work in the same space. Thus, these events can be great for finding resources for your company or project, new talent, or even clients.

The downside to events is they are less accessible than other options. Often, you’ll need to buy a ticket, travel, or take off work to attend. However, if you can show that an event will benefit your company, you may be able to get the costs covered.

In the end, you’ll gain some valuable skills and knowledge, and you’ll expand your network.

4. School (even if you’ve graduated)

You can start building your network early by creating connections at college. Speak to your peers and professors and attend events. You never know where your peers might end up in the future. Keeping in contact with them can prove valuable for both of your careers. Additionally, it’s always easier to find friends when you already have interests in common. The person at the next desk over could be a great business contact, your next best friend, or even more.

Professors are some of the best network connections you can form. They are experts in their field and stay on top of trends. Further, these instructors usually have real-world experience and links to other experts. Sometimes, you may even be able to join a scientific study or become a teacher’s assistant in their classroom.

Finally, guest lectures not only provide you with information you won’t find in a textbook, but you can also speak to experts in your field and add them to your network. Sometimes, food and drinks will be offered after the event is over. Take advantage of this time to speak to the other attendees and the speaker. These professionals are usually successful and highly respected in the field. Thus, it would be a great opportunity for you to meet them.

Don’t fret if you’ve already graduated or are finishing up your degree. Many colleges have alumni and networking programs to help connect their graduates. Your college may hold events, have an online forum or platform, or run other programs. Majorly, schools don’t want to lose contact with their graduates. Thus, they’ll make it easy and valuable to stay connected.

Additionally, career counselors can share networking tips to help you succeed. They’ll connect you to the university’s resources. Also, they may know about networking groups specific to your field.

5. Through Other Connections

Don’t count your friends and family out when building your professional connections. Don’t close out your network to people you have personal relationships with already. Indeed, these individuals often have a deeper motivation to see you succeed than your coworkers. Let them help but be ready to set boundaries. Not all suggestions can be helpful. Family especially may have your best interests at heart, but not the right connections. Don’t be afraid to say no.

Simply, treat them just as you would any other contact. You wouldn’t ask a coworker to ensure you get a high salary or a job you’re not qualified for. Thus, don’t ask that of your family or friends.

Beyond job opportunities, you can expand your network through your family and friends. They’ll likely have a few networking tips in their pocket that they can share. Also, they may meet someone in their job or life who can help you. Ask if they can introduce you to one of their coworkers or connections. However, even if the conversation doesn’t go how you expected, treat their contact with respect.

You could damage your friend’s reputation or relationship if you’re not careful.

How to Utilize Your Network

Once you’ve built your network, you may wonder how to get the benefits. We know it can be frightening to reach out and ask for help. Notably, a 2022 study showed that only a quarter of Americans ask for help before starting something new.

However, building up a network and never using it would be a waste of time. Consider the following networking tips to start using those connections.

Be Active Online

One of the easiest ways to get your name seen is to create content. Write or share articles on LinkedIn with interesting studies, valuable advice or information, or general questions or concerns in your field. Basically, consider what’s interesting to you and your coworkers and write about it.

Sharing memes and jokes can also be a great way to break the ice. However, some of your contacts may find this unprofessional.

Furthermore, you can use posts to ask for help or advice. See if anyone has a recommendation for solving a problem at work. Or ask who knows a great marketing company. Chances are someone will have what you need and will reach out with a solution.

Similarly, make sure to help anyone you can. Other people will be looking for solutions to their problems. Remember, these relationships shouldn’t be one-sided.

Altogether, consider the kind of network you want to build before sharing a post. As a rule, most people keep political posts on their private social media pages. But this isn’t true for everyone. Some individuals value their political opinions and only want contacts who share similar beliefs. Just know that this can be isolating in some cases and can prevent upward momentum.

Additionally, interact with your network’s posts. Ask questions, make comments, and generally spur on conversations about the articles your connections post. These posts can spur longer talks through private messages and help build relationships.

Make Casual Conversation

Not everything has to be business all of the time. Remember, a large part of a successful network is in solid relationships. If you see someone regularly in the office or at events, ask them how they’re doing. Basically, get to know them. You don’t have to be everyone’s friend, but don’t be afraid to make friends either.

Sometimes the benefit you get out of your network can be as simple as a long-lasting friendship. Other times, a positive interaction can lead to a new partnership or a job opportunity. Often, the worst that can happen is a dull conversation.

Be Direct

If you have someone specific in mind to help you with a problem, you need to contact them directly. This type of message is often where many people struggle. However, you may not find a solution, or at least not the solution you want, if you never ask for help. Thus, never be afraid to reach out. Craft a direct and professional message explaining what you need. The worst they can say is no. Additionally, this can help you build your communication skills, which are vital for success.

Truly, this is where relationship-building comes in. If you’ve established a good connection with someone, they’ll be more likely to help. Even if they’re unable to get involved personally, they might have a contact of their own to get you out of trouble.

Even if they’re a new contact, don’t hesitate to ask for advice. Generally, people like to be helpful. Many seasoned experts know that if they help you, you may be able to return the favor one day. However, you should know that this isn’t always the case. Say you help a contact with marketing one day. There is no guarantee that they’ll be able to repay the favor. They may not be able to help you with your career. Or they may pay you back tenfold.

Final Thoughts

Indeed, we’re all figuring out life and work together. Sometimes a good deed can just be a good deed. Don’t look at every interaction as a transaction. Help when you can and ask for help when you need it. Make sure to set boundaries, but don’t push people away.

Often a good attitude is all people need to extend their hand. Thus, even if you’re not sure they’ll be able to repay the favor, don’t be afraid to help others.

As you start to build your network, consider these networking tips.