The CGS Team covered the importance of networking in the Power of Networking article. Now, we are going to give you a few tips for forming your network. Having a strong network can help boost your career in the future, open the door for new opportunities, and allow you to meet people who may be able to help you (or vice versa) down the line. Below you will find a list of places where you can start forming your network!
Industry Events, Seminars, Workshops
Events, seminars, workshops, and mixers are so great for networking because attendees are going with the mindset of meeting new people while learning new things. Networking events and mixers are the perfect place to form your network because that is what everyone is there for!
Bring a stack of business cards, and make it a mission to talk to as many people as you can. If there are introductions or bios distributed prior to the event, focus your efforts on meeting the people who are in the same field as you. If you are looking to switch careers, meet people who are already in the career you are interested in.
Seminars and workshops are a little different. People who are in attendance are looking to become more knowledgeable about the subject at hand. So while they may not be in the career yet, they are interested and are worth meeting. You never know where they may end up in the future. Take advantage of these events and open a door for friendship. Staying in contact through email will make it that much easier to reach out for favors or meetings in the future.
So how do you find events, seminars and workshops that interest you? Start with Google! Do a search of webinars or workshops in the field that interests you. You can always follow the social media pages of companies or people who would benefit your network. There are often events posted on social media.
Are you hoping to become an accountant? Do you want to make a mark in the fashion industry? Find organizations that are designed specifically for the profession you are looking to become a part of. Women who are already doing what you want to do may be a part of the organization and open for mentoring. Usually organizations have member meetings, member’s only events, mentoring programs and much more.
If you are looking to add variety to your network, look for general organizations of women or professionals. The National Association of Professional Women (NAPW) is a great place to start. NAPW is widely known throughout the United States, with local chapters in many cities. There are usually fees associated with most organizations, but the ease of networking and any other member benefits are usually well worth the cost of membership.
In the Workplace
If you are already in an industry you enjoy, then network with your co-workers! Reach out to people who are currently in the position you are hoping to grow into one day. Ask if they would mind meeting you for lunch to give you some insight on what you can do to work your way up. If you are going to form your network, you must not be afraid to reach out to people. Besides, the worst thing someone can say is no, (which is highly unlikely).
They may even feel flattered that you reached out and would be willing to provide references or keep you in mind for future positions. Also, get to know the co-workers around you. Great relationships can be made at work. Keep in mind to always remain professional. If you and a co-worker are applying for the same promotion, you want to ensure there is nothing floating around that can be used against you.
School, Personal Clubs
As you move along in the courses required to obtain your degree, you will start to notice familiar faces. People working towards the same degree as you are worth keeping in your network. If you plan on looking for work in your field of study, people in the network you formed may have some job leads they are willing to share.
Personal clubs and hobby groups (on or off campus) can also be utilized to form your network. Other members in the club have similar interests as you, which will give a great starting point.
Take the time to attend meetings and interact. Sports Clubs, Fashion Clubs, and Fitness Clubs; just about any hobby or interest can be tied to a club. Notices there aren’t any clubs in your area? Start your own! Do some research and post ads to see if there are people out there with the same interests. Not only will you meet more people, but you can form personal and professional relationships to help you in the future.
Related: 6 Tips to Improve Your Networking Skills
Forming your network may seem scary, but once you get out there and interact with people who have the same interests, careers and goals it will become very easy. Don’t make excuses for why you don’t network or haven’t started networking. Make a commitment to yourself to attend an event or reach out to someone who you admire professionally. Remember you must overcome uncomfortable situation to get to where you want to go! Do you have any tips for new networkers? Where do you go to grow your network? Share your thoughts and feedback with the community so that we can all learn!