5 Tips to Improve Your Networking Skills

5 Easy Networking Tips to Help You in Your Career

Networking with other professionals is important, whether you’re a college graduate who’s starting your first job search, you’re unemployed and are looking for a new job, or you’re happily employed and feel secure in your current position.

According to The Balance, 80% of professionals say professional networking is important for career success. CNBC reports the same percentage of jobs (80%) are filled through professional and personal connections.

Maintaining a strong network of connections helps wherever you are in your career, since you never know when you’ll need to tap into your network for career help or when an amazing opportunity will come your way via a connection. Here are 5 easy tips for networking that can help boost your professional profile.

1. Join LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network, with more than 774 million members. Upon joining and completing your profile, you’ll be able to connect with alumni from your school and coworkers from companies you’ve worked for. Joining LinkedIn is a great first step toward reconnecting with past or present coworkers, colleagues and managers, past clients and customers, and acquaintances you’re comfortable being connected with on the network.

When you make a new connection on LinkedIn, you can use the network to start a conversation about where you are professionally and what your career goals are. You can also ask trusted colleagues for LinkedIn recommendations to fill out your profile.

2. Use Social Media

LinkedIn’s not the only social media network that can help you build valuable relationships. If you’re on networks like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you can increase your interactions there to get to know your contacts and how they fit into your professional life. Consider these ideas.

  • Scan through your Facebook friends list. Choose a few people you haven’t chatted with recently. Send a message to reach out and see what they’re up to.
  • On Twitter, follow professionals and influencers in your industry. Retweet their content or reply to their Tweets with your own thoughts. Send Twitters users who are following you a message to get to know them better.
  • Look through the Instagram accounts that follow you to identify interesting followers. Send a direct message to start a conversation if you haven’t connected with them personally yet.

Even social media connections that don’t apparently relate to your career could be beneficial for your professional life. They might know someone who could refer you to a job, for example. It can be helpful to take some time to get to know your social media connections on a deeper level, or to strengthen the existing relationships you have, so that you stay at top of mind when good opportunities arise.

3. Schedule Informational Interviews

An informational interview is a meeting where you talk with someone about their career, learn how they navigated their professional journey and ask for tips and advice that might help you. Informational interviews provide the following benefits.

  1. They provide constant learning opportunities, since they offer insights into unique career journeys.
  2. Asking someone for an informational interview can be flattering. They show the person you’ve asked that you have initiative and that you want to improve yourself.
  3. They alert influential professionals to who you are, which can help you get referrals for better career opportunities.

You can set up quick 15-minute virtual informational interviews, which are convenient to both parties and widen the scope of who you can approach. Prepare a list of questions based on the experience of the person you’re speaking with. Thank the interviewee and follow up by adding them as a connection on LinkedIn if you haven’t already.

4. Get Involved in Your Community

Participating in community events is a convenient way to meet local professionals and build relationships based on shared interests. Community involvement shows you’re a well-rounded individual. It provides a natural way to meet new friends and potential professional connections. Here are some ideas for how to get involved in your community.

  • Volunteer
  • Take a class
  • Run a race for charity
  • Join a recreational sports team
  • Attend an art or cultural event

If you’re unsure of where to start, check out Meetup. You can browse local events based on unique interests and meet people who share the same passions.

Before you venture out into the community, form an idea of your elevator pitch so you can introduce yourself professionally when appropriate. You may be participating in a kickball league or taking a cooking class, but being prepared to share your elevator pitch could lead to something valuable career-wise.

5. Tap into Your Existing Network

Finally, if you want to grow your network, start with your existing one. If you’re a young professional or you just graduated college, let professors, classmates and friends know you’re interested in growing your network. If you’re an established professional who wants to make new connections, let your coworkers know you’re grateful for any relevant introductions.

You can use social media networks like Facebook and Twitter to introduce yourself professionally and ask your followers to introduce you to like-minded people. You can also remind family members and friends that you’re open to growing your network if they recommend anyone for you to meet.

Be Open & Put Yourself Out There

You never know when a random, casual conversation could turn into your next best career move. In everyday life, look for ways to form connections with others, share information about yourself professionally and build relationships that could help you in your career.

Networking is not always easy. If you want to improve your networking skills, career or life coaching may help. Contact us for a free consultation if you’d like to learn about these services.