Networking Basics Pt. 2: 3 Things You Can Do Today to Expand Your Network
Welcome back to the blog! As a continuation of Networking Basics Pt.1, I’m back with 3 things that you can do today to help you expand your network. Saying that, let’s get straight to it!
Use your current network! I mean this in more than one way. When was the last time you reached out to someone outside of your immediate circle? I'm sure you've heard people express the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone. I think the same is applied when it comes to the people you surround yourself with. Your best friends and family members don’t always have all the answers (and let's face it, some times not the best advice or influence. For example, telling you to play it safe by not taking chances on yourself) So I say you should challenge yourself to reach out to someone and catch up! Think about past coworkers, people you’ve went to school with, etc. Make use of the connections you already have and invest time into reigniting and building positive professional relationships. On another similar note, when it comes to social media it’s easy to see who is connected to who. If you see you have a mutual contact with someone of interest simply ask if they can help with an introduction!
Do information interviews - I’ve done this myself and there is so much value in these conversations. If there is an industry or company that you wish to get into, find ways to get information from people who are already there! If you’re unsure of what an information interview is, it’s basically a meeting either by phone or in person where you connect with someone to ask questions and get information or feedback. Now remember from my previous networking post about the importance of respecting people’s time. Not everyone will be available for a ‘coffee chat’ so ensure to give them options that are most convenient for them in terms of communication. Prepare your questions in advance and don’t go into it with any expectations such as a referral for a job. This is just to genuinely connect, learn and gain some insight.
Attend events, workshops and groups (Job fairs, eventbrite, meetups, etc) - Remember the point about stepping out of your circle? This is one way of doing it! Don’t concern yourself with the thought of “who’s going to come with me?” or “I don’t want to go by myself”. The point is to connect with new people and going out to events on your own pushes you to connect. I see it all the time where people attend events with others and stay huddled together or there's one person shadowing while the other is leading. You have no clue of the potential opportunities lost when doing things like this. Introduce yourself, spark up conversation, exchange contact info and don’t forget to follow-up and engage! Prepare ice breaker questions if you have to! I know that it may sound strange but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! Aside from that, there are numerous events happening in the city. My goal is to connect with at least 1-2 people when I go to these events. Whether we’re in the same industry of work or not. You never know what you can do for one another later down the line.
To conclude, there’s so much power in relationships, no matter the perspective it's viewed from (business partners, new and existing customers, funders, etc). When it comes to your career and/or business the effort that you put into building your network and maintain the various relationships will pay off big time. So on that note, challenge yourself to do at least one of these things this month. If you need further guidance, please do not hesitate to reach out and connect with me.
From one working millennial to another… All the best!