“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
Networking continues to exist as a buzzword in the corporate world for good reason. The people you interact with both professionally and personally have the power to lead you to new opportunities, serve as references and provide meaningful career advice. In this digital age, LinkedIn connections and Twitter followers supplement traditional networking opportunities such as formal, in-person events.
It can be tempting for business professional, both experienced and in-experienced, to grab hold of every networking opportunity that becomes available, but smart professionals pick and choose which events and channels serve them the most in their specific field of work.
The most effective networking is intentional networking. Here’s how to get started:
Prepare your elevator speech
Some of the most important networking happens on the fly, so prepare a short, 2-minute professional overview that details your past work experience, current position and career goals.
Effectively manage your LinkedIn presence
Do you have a LinkedIn profile? If the answer is no, you’re missing a crucial opportunity to advertise yourself through a global network of more than 259,000,000 registered members. Take five minutes today and easily create your profile by importing your resume and adding a professional photo. If you already have a profile, commit to updating your profile to effectively showcase your experience. Connect with new and old colleagues, and don’t forget to join relevant industry groups.
Find a mentor in your field
A broad network will help you quickly expand your network, but you should also identify a professional that can meet with you in-person on a monthly or quarterly basis. These meetings can be formal or informal, but this set-aside time will give you the opportunity to ask important career questions and develop a strong mentor relationship.
Join the right professional organizations
If you’re a student, invest time in professional organizations both on and off-campus to build a network that will benefit you the most post-graduation. As a current professional, challenge yourself to use your time wisely by socializing at group meetings and industry events.
Engage in person and online
Intentional networking exists on and offline. Both channels work together to bolster your network, so don’t let your hundreds of LinkedIn connections replace valuable in-person networking opportunities.
Photo credit: GDC Europe