I recently spoke for a college class sharing my best practices for interview preparation and shared a few tips at the end around networking. It brought me back to my uni days and the constant reminder on how important it is to build your professional network.
I’m confident in saying that I know you’ve heard it before and trust me when I say, you’ll hear it 💯 times more…
“it’s all about who you know”.
So today, I’m sharing 3 simple ways to expand your professional network. And the best part is, you can start today, and it’ll only take 5 minutes of your time!
BUT before we go there, I asked my Instagram community if they saw value in networking and almost every respondent answered YES.
And then, I followed up that question with does the thought of networking make you cringe? And over half of respondents shared YES.
My goal is that by the end of this article, the thought of networking is going to feel less cringey for you.
Let’s start with the basics.
Your professional network are your mentors, industry community, friends, family, co-workers, past colleagues. And whoever makes up your network collective, this group of people, they are the people who will support, guide, and cheer you on throughout your career journey.
When I think of a friend reaching out for advice or to introduce them to someone I know, I want to help! I think we can all agree that people naturally want to help other people.
Now I was chatting with my sister-in-law this morning about networking, and she shared with me that this past year her business has grown substantially through networking. And not the schmoozy way that often makes people cringe. She simply introduced herself to others in her industry. She made connections. She checked in with those people with simple messages from time to time. She sent them referrals when her clients mentioned a need for something they provided and so on.
She did 2 things I want to call out and encourage you to do too:
- She genuinely cared about these other people. She stayed connected with them and nurtured the relationship.
- She added value to their life, their line of work. She didn’t make it all about her and what she needed or wanted. She developed a mutually beneficial relationship.
So, with all that being said, let’s dive into those 3 simple ways to expand your professional network.
#1. Share your professional goals.
Do the people in your current network know what you want to get up to? Spread the word and don’t be shy in asking them who they know that could support you in achieving those goals. Like I mentioned already, people genuinely want to help others.
Ps don’t forget to ask them about their goals. You never know, you may just be the unlock in supporting them with their pursuit. Which leads into point #2.
#2. Take initiative in helping others.
What skills, ability and experience you have that could help someone in your life. Volunteer, share your knowledge at an industry event or support someone in your current network. Have you heard of the law of giving and receiving? Go check that out.
And #3. Maybe the most obvious sounding one. Introduce yourself.
It’s so easy to go to an event (in person or virtually) and slide under the radar. Yes, I’m talking to you. I see you choosing not to turn on your video. I encourage you to seize every opportunity to introduce yourself, meet more people and make new connections.
A way to introduce (or reintroduce) yourself in a non-event or live setting is to reach out via email or direct message on platforms like LinkedIn.
Your message can read as simple as:
I wanted to reach out to say that:
- I really enjoyed working together or,
- I really admired your leadership while working together at _____. or,
- I read your article, watched your Ted Talk, listened to your podcast…etc and I’m inspired by (insert that) or,
- I appreciate your career path and see myself taking a similar approach.
I’m currently (fill in the blanks) and would love to gain some insight from you on (insert topic).
Would you be open to answering a few questions over the phone or through email?
When they respond yes, respond with your top 3 questions.
Make sure to thank them for their time and it’s as simple as that!
There you have it. 3 simple ways to expand your professional network. Which one will you do first? Let me know in the comments below ⬇️ with a 1, 2 or 3.