Networking For Beginners
Starting to grow your professional network can be intimidating. You may feel uncomfortable at first reaching out to people, overwhelmed with the uncertainty of asking for help, or even doubt your own abilities. The good news? These feelings are completely normal. That’s why we’ve compiled this guide to networking for beginners. Keep reading to learn what a network is, how developing a strong network can help your career, and of course -- where and how to look for new connections.
What is a network and who is a part of yours?
Your network is a group of people that you have built professional relationships with. They are the people who have witnessed your success, the ones who you can turn to for professional advice or mentoring, rely on to vouch for your skills and capabilities, and the people you would feel comfortable doing the same for. This can include your peers, friends and family, mentors, co-workers, clients and customers, recruiters, and more.
How can networking help you?
Whether you’re actively looking for a new position or not, having a strong network filled with people who are familiar with your skills and abilities means you have personal connections to a variety of organizations and communities that can help advance your career. By surrounding yourself with a network that you trust, you give yourself the opportunity to further your professional development, learn new skills, broaden your career interests, and even be recommended for a new position when the time comes.
Where or how can you expand your network?
School: As a recent graduate or an alumni looking to grow your network, your current school or alma mater is the best place to first look for new connections. Aside from your past and current classmates, professors, advisors, etc., your school is sure to have programs and events specifically for networking. Many universities even have their own online portals or Handshake pages for networking that can be accessed by students and alumni. This can give you the chance to reach out to new people you may already have connections with and explore opportunities you may have otherwise not have known about. Staying active in your school’s alumni association or alumni events can also give you the opportunity to stand out as a distinguished individual and further grow your network.
Professional events: Search for upcoming virtual networking events or events in your area using Google’s event finder or specific event platforms such as Eventbrite. Keep an eye out for networking opportunities such as career fairs, hiring events, professional mixers, and more.
Volunteer opportunities: Volunteering can simply mean partnering with local non-profit organizations and schools during your free time or starting your own volunteer efforts such as offering mentoring services for people in your field. Whichever route you decide is best for you, volunteering can introduce you to new people with similar values and goals, build relationships with various organizations, and even strengthen the existing relationships within your network.
Old and new communication methods: A simple method of growing your professional network that is often overlooked is through traditional word-of-mouth communication. Always be prepared to discuss your professional interests and career aspirations with new acquaintances. Although this doesn’t necessarily mean striking up a conversation with every person you meet and trying to form a professional relationship right away. In the event that you do meet someone, have a go-to elevator pitch that summarizes your experience and what you’re looking for in a position or keep a couple of business cards handy with your name, contact information, and resume or portfolio link.
Likewise, taking advantage of online platforms can be extremely useful for meeting new people to add to your network. LinkedIn is a unique professional social network that allows you to see job postings, learn more about a company’s employees, and stay up-to-date on the members of your existing network. Make sure to keep your own profile regularly updated and full of your accomplishments to get you noticed or use the #OpenToWork feature to let people know where you currently stand in your job search.
Working with a recruiter: Growing your network and forming meaningful professional relationships can be a lot of work. However, working with a recruiter can take some of the hard work and uncertainty out of this ongoing process. A recruiter can be the link you need to meeting new connections, receiving feedback on your current networking practices, and of course having one more person to add to your network!
If you’re ready to take the next step in your career and would like to connect with a recruiter, contact Nexus today. Our team of experienced professionals is ready to help you find your next opportunity.
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