The benefits of a strong professional network are many fold. People in your network may introduce you to jobs or opportunities that you wouldn’t find otherwise but how do we best build these professional networks?
Attending an event can introduce you to a significant group of professional contacts very quickly. Seek out industry newsletters and blogs in your industry. Often these will be great ways to find out about upcoming events.
Conferences and relevant events to your industry can improve upon your skills while also generating opportunities. Introduce yourself to people and don’t forget to collect business cards. Be sure to follow up with people you want to stay in touch with. Send them a personal email the following day.
Sometimes the people we already know can direct us towards contacts within an industry. LinkedIn is great for this type of thing. Identify people you want to meet and seek out connections in common.
Worse comes to worst, and you have no connections in common. Don’t fret, it’s time to just pick up the phone or write an email. The easiest way to write an effective cold email is to keep it short and simple, try and personalize it, be clear about what you can offer and why they should meet you. Remember, social media is a nice way to reach out as well.
Seek out groups that are focused on your hobbies and interests beyond just your work. This is an excellent way to meet others and gain a rapport. Although, this isn’t the best way to necessarily develop your network within the narrow context of the niche you may want to work within, these relationships come with their own benefits and you never know who you might meet this way.
Don’t forget that parties, and private events can be helpful for business as well. Don’t be afraid to tag along with friends to events where you won’t know anybody. If you host your own event be sure to let people know that they should invite others. It’s a great way to meet new people and having mutual friends ensures that you probably already have something in common.