Building your professional network can connect professionals to strong leads in a job search who can offer their support as you advance in your career. Networks often include friends, professors, classmates or colleagues and people build on these by joining organizations, attending industry events and adding professionals on social media. Learning about this process and how to build a strong network can help you create and foster professional relationships throughout your career.
In this article, we discuss building networking and share why this is important and tips for building your networking skills.
Why is building a network important?
Here are several reasons why building a network is important:
Connecting with industry professionals who can review your resume.
Learning about new job opportunities at different companies.
Finding learning opportunities to develop your skills.
Discovering changes in an industry.
Receiving work improvement recommendations.
Tips for building your network
Here are some tips you can follow for building your network:
1. Set your networking goals
To help navigate through the networking process and to ensure you’re using your time and resources wisely, set goals for yourself. Decide what you aim to accomplish by connecting with industry professionals. Potential reasons to build your network could be to gain job opportunities, enhance your industry knowledge or receive career advice.
Once you have your goals set, find connections who can help you achieve these objectives. Think about your current connections and determine which ones have the qualities you’re looking for. Research professionals outside of your network who have these specifications as well. Learn what industry events they may attend based on their job titles, locations, and backgrounds.
2. Craft a compelling elevator pitch
Before you meet with any professionals, have an elevator pitch prepared, which is a 30- to 60-second speech mentioning your strengths, values, and background. If you’re networking for potential job opportunities, emphasize your value and why you’d make a great fit for a company.
Your pitch should be quick, compelling and convincing as you introduce yourself to professionals. Include an invitation to connect further at the end of your speech by providing them with your business card, social media handles or contact information.
3. Reach out to current connections
No matter where you are in your professional journey, you should already have a network. Contact people you know who could help you advance in your career. These can be friends, classmates, current or previous coworkers, family members or colleagues. Cultivate and grow these relationships by reaching out to them directly or connecting on social media.
Ask them to meet in person over dinner or coffee to discuss your professional goals and aspirations. They may provide guidance, resources and advice for advancing in the industry or give you the contact information of their own connections who could help you meet your goals.
4. Join local and national organizations
Expand your network further by finding local and national organizations in your industry that interest you. Conduct research and make a list of potential organizations that appeal to you and align with the networking goals you set for yourself. Consider organizations targeted both toward where you currently are in your career and where you aim to be, such as groups for entrepreneurs, remote employees or business-to-business professionals.
Determine if they’re right for you by attending their events, signing up for newsletters or joining their social media pages. Become an official member of the organizations that appeal the most to you and offer the greatest professional value. Locate and connect further with members of these communities who hold titles or accomplishments you aim to achieve as well.
5. Use social media to find new connections
You can use social media to locate and reach out to potential connections. It’s also a great solution to start out with if you’re anxious to attend events and talk in person. Connect with industry professionals who hold similar values, aspirations and interests as you. Send a message to them that briefly outlines who you are and why you’d like to connect.
Continue your communication with them by commenting on posts or maintaining a casual conversation back and forth through social media. Once you establish a professional online relationship with them, you can feel more comfortable meeting them in person one day.
6. Attend industry events
Many of the organizations you join may often host industry events. Attend these gatherings to meet some of your online connections in person. Some of these may be educational events or classes to help learn a new skill or develop your abilities. Try to meet new people regularly at these events and make as many connections as possible. You can also research industry events online to find those happening in your area, like conferences, conventions or seminars.
7. Ask connections to review your resume
If your main goal for building and expanding your network is to gain more job leads, meet with them in person for job search advice and guidance. Invite connections out to lunch and bring your resume. Ask for their feedback and input on what they believe stands out most to employers. They may also offer tips for the rest of the job search process, like finding companies that match your interests, improving your interview skills and writing a compelling cover letter.