Networking can sometimes seem daunting and even stressful, especially if you haven’t done it before. It can be difficult to know which relationships to form and how to start them. However, a professional network is extremely helpful and rewarding. Whether you have yet to start a conversation or just feel a little shy putting yourself out there, reading this article will hopefully lead you to build a strong network in no time.
When it comes to networking in person at events like Business Horizons or on treks, the first important thing to remember is that everyone is a little shy at first. If you’ve never tried to build your professional network, of course, you won’t be a pro at first. It might take a little time to learn which questions to ask or how to start conversations in general. Start with an introduction and find common ground. By finding something in common with the person, you form a connection. Asking a couple genuine, get-to-know-you questions before diving into the career ones will help to build a relationship that will last beyond your conversation at the event.
Ask the right questions. It’s best to prepare thoughtful questions you would like to ask before a networking event, to make the conversation more interesting and meaningful to both parties involved. Write them down in a notebook or padfolio so you can reference them while you are having the conversation.
LinkedIn is a great tool for networking. If you haven’t already, make an account! It takes a few minutes and is simple to use. After you speak with someone at an event, make sure to connect with them on LinkedIn. This is great for staying connected with all of your peers.
Stay in touch. Your professional network is like a plant; it doesn’t grow overnight and needs nurturing to flourish. Try to meet up with people in your network to continue the relationship and build a stronger bond. Meet up for coffee, ask for help with your resume, or get advice for “firsts” in your professional career once you’ve got a job.
Having a professional network has many benefits. Utilize relationships you currently have and brainstorm how you can build other relationships off of those. Always keep an open mind and make sure to keep those connections on hand for when you may need them. Who knows, maybe a relationship you’re building right now will help you to get your first job or a promotion later in your career!
Make sure to come out to the Accenture Business Horizons Workshop and Protiviti Networking Event on September 4th to practice your networking! The other CWIB members in attendance will be glad to offer any advice and guidance we can!