New to Networking? 4 Strategies for Making Successful Connections

If you’re a networking novice, you might balk at the prospect of putting yourself out there professionally. But getting to know your industry peers doesn’t need to be painful. 

Hate making small talk? Focus on genuine, purposeful, and meaningful interactions. Think you need to schmooze with the company CEO to get somewhere in your career? Think again – lateral networking can get you just as far. More tips? Don’t hesitate to take the initiative when first getting to know someone new. Also, make sure to draw on the skills you’ve gained thanks to your studies and experience to date. 

Here’s how to do it. 

  1. Make Use of Your Qualifications: Write Submissions for Industry Publications

So, you’ve gone through the pains of completing a tertiary qualification – like a degree in communications for example, or perhaps an accredited online MBA

The payoff of attaining a university degree is usually well worth it – on the whole, college graduates earn more than their less-qualified counterparts – however, admittedly, it’s still a hard slog to get through years of coursework and assignments. It makes sense then that once you graduate, you’re well in your rights to celebrate your accomplishments. But perhaps more importantly, you need to make use of your acquired skills to support your networking efforts.

A key strategy for graduates who are new to networking can include writing submissions for industry publications – particularly within your field of expertise. Try reaching out to editors of industry-relevant journals and other scholarly resources to ask if you can submit an article – it could be a product review, an opinion piece, or even, a news article on a current issue. The reasoning behind this particular networking strategy? Getting your name out there is essential to effective networking. Having your work published by respected sources in your field will also help build up your professional profile and personal brand. 

  1. Lateral Networking: Get Horizontal with Your Connections

Want to get more out of your networking efforts? Consider lateral or horizontal networking. And no, by this we do not mean taking your new contacts to bed. Instead, we’re referring to the practice of getting to know your direct peers – people who are on the same level as you professionally. 

In truth, when we think of networking, often we assume we need to network up – that is to say, get close to people who’ve already made it. While doing this can add a lot of value – especially if you’re looking for a professional mentor to take you under their wing – don’t discount the importance of networking on your own block. Connecting with people who are encountering the same professional experiences as you – and going through life’s stages at the same time you are – can help you build mutually beneficial relationships that will grow over time, just as you do. 

  1. Get Personal: Purposefully Build Meaningful, Genuine Connections

If the thought of making small talk with strangers makes you want to barf, you’ll be happy to know that building genuine network connections is entirely dependent on being purposeful. People value authenticity, and displaying genuine kindness – with the sole intention of building meaningful relationships – can get you far. 

In truth, you’re never too important to be kind to people, and as CEO Brigitte Hyacinth can attest: “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” Never dismiss someone because of their professional standing, job title, or life experience. If we take the time to listen, show respect, and ask the right questions, everyone has some wisdom to impart or a personal takeaway we can glean from them. 

  1. Take the Initiative: Proactively Arranging the ‘Next Steps’

You’ve sparked a quality connection with a valuable network contact. What’s next? In truth, you may both be too shy to reach out to each other again. Often, pride gets in the way of taking initiative. Just like a first date – you may both be waiting for the other person to make the next move. 

So, take it upon yourself to take things further. Send your new contact an email, or even, a direct message on LinkedIn. Either way, don’t think about it too hard. Make it personable, and friendly, and most importantly, help them see how you can add value by being part of their circle. 

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Author Profile

Lee Clarke
Lee Clarke
Business And Features Writer


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