Networking Strategies: A Step-by-Step Guide to Success

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    Attending job fairs, networking events, and professional conferences can feel overwhelming at times. Thankfully, there are lots of ways to network. Whether you are interested in learning how to grow your network on LinkedIn or how to network with people at formal events, the key to networking effectively is learning how to speak about your career and goals with confidence and candor. 

    In this step-by-step guide, we will discuss various networking strategies, as well as highlight notable networking event tips.

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    Reflect on your goals

    Before you begin networking in earnest, you’ll need to reflect on your goals for the future. In other words, before you can land your dream job, you’ll need to figure out what it is! 

    Ask yourself what you have liked and disliked previous jobs. What are some of your professional strengths? Do you prefer working independently or on a team? 

    Now, reflect on some of your long-term goals. Where do you see your career in five years? Ten years? Do you have plans to further your education? 

    In addition to determining long-term goals, you’ll want to come up with a list of actionable, short-term goals. Ideally, these goals should be “SMART” goals. “SMART” stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.


    Make your elevator pitch

    To start, what is an elevator pitch? And why do you need one? An elevator pitch is a brief description of your professional goals, interests, and strengths that you can bring up in casual conversation. Ideally, your elevator pitch should be around 3-5 sentences — about the length of the average elevator ride.

    Let’s take a look at a few examples:

    First, let’s say you’re a professional artist. Your elevator pitch might sound something like this:

    “Hi, I’m Samatha. I’m a multimedia artist who enjoys working with found objects and other recycled materials. I’m interested in how we assign value to objects and when and why we decide an object is no longer valuable. My work shows how old objects take on new significance through art. I’ve attended several artist residencies over the past few years and have plans to attend another this fall. Currently, my work is on display at the Penland Gallery.”

    Now, let’s say you’re a chemist. Your elevator pitch might sound something like this:

    “My name is Mark and I’m a dedicated chemist focused on creating early and accurate blood testing for tick-borne illnesses. With a passion for improving public health, my work promises to revolutionize our current protocols for detection of tick-borne illnesses. My company believes that we can obtain more accurate diagnoses and more rapid detection for these illnesses with the generous support of our sponsors.” 

    The best elevator pitches are confident, thoughtful, and concise. So do your best to convey confidence and passion! And remember, the best way to do this is to practice.


    Cultivate confidence

    The easiest way to get others to believe in you is to believe in yourself. Depending on your personality, this may or may not come easily to you. But regardless, confidence is key in any networking opportunity. 

    Learn to speak confidently about your strengths and previous accomplishments. Discuss your goals for the future while conveying passion and motivation. Reflect on Positive Character Traits You’ll Need In Every Workplace and identify which characteristics you possess. Remember, people value professionals with a strong sense of purpose and motivation.


    Make business cards

    Get into the habit of carrying business cards with you. Business cards are an important networking strategy for several reasons: They build credibility and memorability, while providing people with your contact information. 

    So what should you include on your business card?

    • Your name and contact information
    • Job title and company
    • Image or logo
    • Website and social media 
    • QR code (optional)

    Thankfully, there are lots of affordable options for printing business cards. And even more business card templates to choose from. So if you aren’t a graphic designer, don’t worry! You’ll have no problem creating a professional looking business card. Get in the habit of keeping a handful in your wallet.


    Update your Linkedin profile

    If you’re interested in knowing how to grow your network on LinkedIn, the first step is to make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date. Read our article, 31 LinkedIn Profile Tips for Job Seekers, for tips on how to create an engaging and professional profile. 

    You’ll also want to use keywords in your profile, comment on existing posts, post often, explore LinkedIn Groups specific to your industry, and seek out networking events online. And remember, be intentional with your invitations to connect. You don’t want to be a nuisance by indiscriminately sending generic messages. Always research people and companies before reaching out. 

    Create a Personal Website 

    Depending on your profession, you may want to create your own website. Having your own website will increase your credibility and allow you to create a digital portfolio showcasing your work experience, education, professional skills, and career accomplishments. Personal websites are particularly helpful for artists, designers, writers, editors, entrepreneurs, and consultants. That said, all professionals can benefit from having their own website.


    Attend networking events

    Engaging in various networking strategies can help you find job opportunities, build industry connections, and gain various insights. The key to knowing how to network effectively is to be confident and to approach every opportunity as a networking opportunity. 

    Networking events for young professionals can feel intimidating, but with preparation and a positive mindset, they can be incredibly valuable. Approach each networking event with positivity and a genuine desire to connect with others. Practice your elevator pitch and bring plenty of business cards! 

    If you are interested in attending networking events for entrepreneurs and other young professionals, you’ll want to keep your eye out for upcoming:

    • Conferences
    • Panels
    • Volunteer Opportunities
    • Job Trainings
    • Workshops
    • Classes
    • Seminars

    You may also want to consider setting up informational interviews with professionals you admire. An informational interview is when you sit down with someone one-on-one to ask about their industry and career. 

    As you prepare for various networking opportunities, you’ll need to practice talking about your career goals. If you need assistance, refer to our article, How To Answer ‘What Are Your Career Goals?’ in an Interview for some professional tips!


    Use social media to your advantage

    Knowing how to network online is an invaluable skill. Especially in today’s job market. It is also one of the most important networking tips for introverts. Using social media to your advantage when networking can be a powerful tool for building connections and advancing your career. 

    Determine which social media platforms are most relevant to your industry and target audience. In addition to creating a LinkedIn account, you may want to consider making a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok account. 

    When networking on social media, try your best to be authentic and genuine. Show genuine interest in others and engage meaningfully with other accounts. And remember, consistency is key when it comes to using social media for networking. Post content regularly and actively engage with other accounts.


    Always follow up and send thank you emails

    After you’ve had a meaningful interaction with someone, it’s important to follow up. Having a written record of your meeting can be a great reminder of your meeting, one that will help ensure you remain in touch. Overall, sending thank you emails is a great way to stay in touch and foster good will after a networking opportunity or job interview. If you need help knowing how to write a professional work email, review our articles, How to Write a Professional Work Email and 5 Tips On How to Write a Cold Email for a Job.


    Think about who you already know

    Oftentimes when we think of networking strategies, we think of connecting with people we do not know. That said, knowing how to network with people you already know is a valuable skill. One that could result in countless opportunities. 

    Learning how to network with your coworkers, friends, and family members is one of the most important networking tips for beginners. This is because it’s important to get into the habit of practicing networking strategies in your daily life — not just when you’re at a professional conference or a networking event. After all, you never know what opportunities may be available to you!

    To start, talk about your professional goals and interests with your coworkers. After all, you already have a lot in common and you never know who they might know and how they might be able to benefit your career.


    Seize all opportunities

    Turn every opportunity into a networking opportunity! Remember, you don’t need to be at a conference or work training in order to make professional connections. You could be grocery shopping or walking your dog! 

    People who are comfortable talking about their careers and professional interests are more likely to find job opportunities in their daily life. Don’t save your networking strategies for formal events. Rather, get in the habit of seizing any and every opportunity available to you.

    Key takeaways and moving forward

    Now that you’ve reviewed our step-by-step guide to networking, you’re well on your way to making meaningful connections and expanding your professional network. If you’re interested in pursuing a new job, or perhaps even Making a career change at 40, consider using these 8 Top Job Search Engines. You may even want to hire a career counselor. Here at Prepory, we have the resources and expertise to help you reach all of your career-related goals: reach out to learn more about our services.

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