Networking: Tips for Beginners

Marie Raperto, The Hiring Hub

Networking is one of the most important skills you can develop.  It will help you with your career now and later in life.  It’s a skill that will help you develop communications skills and assist with business development skills as well.  Most people struggle with networking so it’s very important to develop the skill now rather than later.

  1.  Don’t Wait.  Maybe you started to network after graduation while looking for a job.  Just because you are now employed is not a reason to stop.  Keep your contacts current and growing.  Let them know what you are up to, send interesting links or articles you wrote and, if they are nearby, invite them to grab coffee.  It doesn’t have to be every week but, at least, interact with them twice a year.
  2. Work at it.  Growing your contacts is very important.  Attend industry events or volunteer at industry associations.  Don’t rely on social media connections.  Get out, invest the time, and meet.
  3. Be Brave.  Don’t be afraid of people who are different than you.  Networking with only people in your age/skill group is not helpful.  You want to meet people of different ages with different skills and backgrounds.
  4. Be Yourself.  If you are natural and comfortable around people, they will be relaxed also.  You can’t force any type of friendship so just let it happen.
  5. Follow-up.  Yes, business cards are great but they are only a start.  To make an acquaintance a true part of your network, you must engage them.  Converse with them, ask questions and then follow up by note, phone or email.
Building a network takes time and patience.  You may not even realize why it’s necessary.  But, there may come a time when you need help, and having a network already in place will be a life-saver.