No matter what profession you’re in, networking is an important part of being successful. For some people the term "networking" can make them anxious, because it involves getting out of your comfort zone by talking to strangers. Another reason could be that you’re just not sure where to start. Either way, the benefits of building a network far outweigh the stress and fear you might feel when first jumping in.
Why you should network and where to start?
Talking to people you don't know seems like a daunting task, but networking doesn't necessarily mean you need to start there. Some of the best and easiest ways to get started is by reaching out to people you already know, such as family and friends. They might be to arrange a meeting with someone who is currently in a profession or field.
This can then snowball, because they might be able to connect you to more people, and therefore help you expand your own network. This will help open up more opportunities in the near future, including a chance to gain mentors who can help guide you navigate your career or other aspects of life.
Use social media to connect with people.
In the unlikely chance that you live in a shoe and don't know anyone, another way to get started is by heading online using social media. Large networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter are filled with thousands of hiring managers, corporations, and potential employers. Start following them and engaging with their content.
Showing interest in what others are doing online in your field or career is a great way to make connections that will help you grow as a professional. The internet has become so advanced and accessible that one click or tweet can create a connection that might ultimately led you to your next job.
Set up informational interviews by email.
Setting up informational interviews via email or phone is one of the best ways to grow your network. You can almost always find people’s contact info on LinkedIn, company’s website, or personal website. In this setting you’ll be able to ask in depth questions about their experience and seek specific advice on how you should go about your professional life.
It's okay if you don't know exactly what you want to do, but it is important to do some research before contacting the person you’re interested in. The point of the interview is to find out information that can’t just be found on the internet, so be sure to approach the informational interview prepared with questions and intentions to hold a conversation, not just a Q&A session.
Make sure to follow up with each connection.
Whether you’ve connect in person or online, the most crucial aspect to being successful in your networking endeavors is to follow up. People will take notice and it will show how much you appreciated them taking time out of their schedules to meet with you. Make sure you include the talking points from your conversation so they know you were listening. These follow ups will ultimately help you to retain your new network so you can continue to grow it.
Now it's your turn - who do you want to connect with today? Just remember to be yourself and be genuinely interested in building a new relationship. Networking isn’t just about landing a job, it can also be a means to growing as a professional.