Networking is a powerful tactic to land the jobs you prefer at the companies you like, and even improves your chances of promotions. It all comes down to one premise: who you know.
So, here is a guide from freelance writer, Adriana, on how to build a network of people who will be ready to give you a helping hand in times of need.
6 simple networking tips to help you get the career you deserve
1. Go to networking events and conferences
Networking will push you to get out of your comfort zone. It’s a simple fact and something you need to accept. In the working world, you have to get comfortable with meeting people, talking about your value, and knowing where to take it from there.
As with everything in life, practice makes perfect. And attending conferences and networking events is the perfect way to get that practice. If you have the opportunity to do this already in high school, then do so. It’s never too early to start, because you never know what resources you’ll need in the future.
In my case, my high school references helped me get into university, because I could list them on my CV. Then my university references helped me get scholarships and get through my first job applications. Then those first job references helped with the second job. So you can understand the pattern. It’s all about building a web of relationships that brings you forward to the next step in your career.
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2. Get on LinkedIn
Nowadays, networking isn’t just about meeting people in person, it’s also about digital networking. If there’s one platform that is the number one place for that, then you should surely choose LinkedIn. Whereas traditional networking is limited to time and location, digital networking on LinkedIn isn’t. You can get up close and personal with the highest level of contacts that you strive for.
For example, since my career is centered around marketing in Germany, then the vast majority of my LinkedIn contacts are also marketers, many of which are Chief Marketing Officers. At a traditional networking event, you simply don’t have global access to C-level executives in the same manner as with digital networking. With LinkedIn, those contacts are a quick click away. Take time to get to know your LinkedIn network and you will absolutely encounter many new networking opportunities there.
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3. Find commonality and pay it forward
Building a network is not simply about approaching as many people as possible. Instead, focus on the people that you have something in common with and orient that based on who might be a valuable resource in the future. You can start your conversation on a friendly basis and get to know them and what they do. You might also offer to help them with something in particular to develop trust. Trust is a key factor to create if you want to be able to come back to them and ask for help.
Networking is a two way street. They have the same thinking as you do: to find resources to help them advance their career. So, be prepared to also be asked for help and give advice. Support the other people and they will be much more likely to support you.
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4. Keep in touch
Once you have developed a relationship, you need to stay in touch, so you stay on top of mind. Depending on the language and culture, there are different ways of handling this. It may be that you give them a phone call on a certain holiday or send a gift such as for Christmas. Whichever methods are perceived as the most friendly and culturally appropriate for them should be the methods you use. Always make sure to thank them for their help as well.
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5. Expand your language skills
Want a quick way to double your network? Add another language to your skillset. Learning another language is a surefire career booster and opens up a whole new world of possibilities simply because those are new people you can speak to.
In my personal experience, learning German was 100% what gave me such a unique advantage to successfully working in Germany as an expat. Now I have my networks both in the US (where I’m from originally) and in Germany, as well as a large digital network on LinkedIn. Through the combination of all of these networks, my capability to advance in my career has heavily progressed. It can absolutely be the same for you and with diverse language skills, the sky is the limit.
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6. Maintain your confidence
Networking is all about relationships, and is not so different from a relationship you form with a partner or spouse. The relationship begins, because both people find value in it and it continues to strengthen as the trust and value grow. You rely on each other and help each other as needed. It’s also commonly known that the healthiest relationships are those where the people in them also believe in themselves. If you feel your best, you can also give your best.
In the same manner, for business relationships and opportunities to develop, you firstly need to believe in yourself and be confident that you deserve a successful career. Other people can perceive that mindset and will become “attracted” to you just like meeting people to go on a first date. So, keep an open mind, maintain your confidence, and leave room for growth, and the right people for your career will appear anyways.