What are some effective networking methods?
- Meeting for coffee
- Job fairs
- Volunteer work
- Social media groups
- Finding/starting a Meetup
- Web courses/Webinars
- Spreading the word
- Cold emailing
- Staying in touch
Many of us don’t like the idea of networking, either because it seems too formal, or because networking can feel unnatural. However, it’s important to remember effective networking methods do exist, and they don’t have to be overly formal or forced.
“Connecting” doesn’t have to take place in a large room with strangers. Sure, effective networking can look like this, but you can easily network in a quiet setting with someone you know.
Below we’ve outlined effective networking methods. You can easily incorporate these ideas into your professional groove.
Let’s get started!
Meeting for coffee
You may be rolling your eyes at the very mention of coffee dates. This advice may seem trite, but keep in mind why professionals meet in these types of environments.
A cafe or restaurant can turn a formal work situation into a casual, friendly atmosphere. You can use this opportunity to show your personality, and you can take this time to ask for professional advice. Additionally, you’re laying the groundwork for a professional relationship you can later call on for help.
Attending job fairs
Job fairs may seem intimidating, but they may benefit you if you’re a student, or of if you’re looking for your next career move. Job fairs are typically free, and they are often sponsored by universities and companies in your area.
This means if you’re looking for opportunities in a nearby city, you may consider attending a job fair there. This will allow you to shake hands and trade business cards with people who are looking to hire.
Doing work for free doesn’t always seem appealing, especially for those of us who already spend much of our days working. However, there are many ways you can volunteer your time and still make connections.
Consider offering your services to local charities; offer a discount or a free hour of your time in a raffle. You may even apply for volunteer opportunities in the field you want to pursue. These are all ways to make new contacts and relationships with those who may need your services in the future.
Social media groups
Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups are perfect for meeting people in your field, especially if you work remotely or work in a rural area. If you have friends who work in your field, ask them if they’re part of any groups, and if so, which ones.
If you’re finding groups on your own, do a little research. LinkedIn luckily makes finding and requesting access to groups simple. Facebook groups are often easy to find as well, especially if you’ve taken a web course that has an affiliated Facebook group.
Finding/starting a Meetup
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If you find local Meetups regarding your field, attend these events and shake some hands. Don’t see anything? Consider hosting an event of your own. (Keep in mind, however, the organizer of a Meetup group does have to pay a subscription fee to run their group.) If you’re looking to cut costs, you may be able to to use low-cost facilities to host your Meetup, like your company’s office, a local library, or a community nonprofit.
Web Courses & Webinars
Above we discussed how web courses can introduce you to Facebook groups. Web courses can also introduce you to employers and employment opportunities.
If you have the option to leave comments or email class instructors, do so. Rather than simply being a digital, faceless student, leave positive comments that will show your personality. Encourage discussions to promote interest in your work.
While many conferences can be expensive, they are well worth your time. Not only do conferences often provide educational opportunities, they also encourage an environment which fosters genuine connections and effective networking.
If money is an issue, research conferences in your area with affordable packages. You may also want to discuss options with your employer, as many companies will happily pay for conferences as a worthy investment of their resources.
Spreading the word
If you’re unemployed or looking to change industries, there’s no shame in telling others you’re on the market. People will recommend opportunities if they know you’re looking.
In most cases, people are eager to help. Plus, many companies accept resumes year-round. Submit your resume and tell others about your goals; this is an organic way to meet professionals in your desired industry.
Cold emailing sounds intimidating, but anyone who has applied for jobs knows business can be a numbers game. The more cold emails you send, the more likely you are to receive responses from potential connections and employers.
You may be wondering how to write cold emails. When writing a cold message, it’s important to be personable and relevant. For instance, you might say, “Hi, so-and-so. I enjoyed your article on x,” or, “Hello, such-and-such, I saw you speak at y.” Ask them for advice and offer your services in the future. And remember, this is an opportunity to incorporate other effective marketing techniques into your approach.
Staying in touch
Once you’ve made a connection, it’s important to keep it. Meeting with people is great, but it can be easy to forget those who aren’t a regular part of your professional circle.
Keep in touch by commenting on posts, continuing to meet over coffee or lunch, and sending messages with personal touches like, “This article reminded me of our last conversation,” or, “I remember you liked this influencer. Did you see their recent news?” This will show you’re invested, not only in networking, but also in lasting connections.
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