Most people shy away from networking. It’s intimidating, awkward, draining, and time-consuming. When so many of us are already pressed for time, the last thing we want to do at the end of a long day is attend a “networking event.” We’d much rather meet up with friends, check in with our families, or sit in front of the TV for a bit. But networking can be extremely valuable, for finding a new job and advancing your career. In fact, it’s estimated that between 60 and 80% of jobs are found through networking. Here are five tips for how to grow your network.
Pay it forward
People will be a lot more willing to help you out if you can help them as well. If someone asks you for a favor, an introduction or some advice, give it. Helping other people will always come back to benefit you. If you promise to do something, do it! It looks really unprofessional if you agree to do a favor or attend a meeting and then don’t follow through. Don’t be selfish—think of ways you can help anyone you come in contact with.
Don’t dominate the conversation or make every interaction about yourself. Listen to what others have to say first and be genuinely interested in what they’re saying. When they feel like you’re listening and respecting them, they’ll learn to trust you. And who knows—you might be able to help them with whatever issue or dilemma they’re having. If you can help them out, you’ll only strengthen the relationship.
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. No matter how strong your network is, they probably can’t read your mind. So you have to put it into words. If you want a referral, an introduction, a meeting, or advice, you probably have to ask.
Think about the long-term
Your network is more than simply a list of contacts. Instead, you’re developing and nurturing strong, long-term relationships with people. The stronger the relationship, the more natural it’ll be for people to do favors or offer advice to you. In fact, if the relationship is strong enough, you’ll be at the forefront of people’s minds, so that when they hear about an opening or really great opportunity, they’ll automatically think of you.
Always follow up
Don’t simply collect phone numbers and email addresses and then expect people to remember you when you call them months and months down the road. Not only will they not remember you, they’ll probably be hesitant to even help you out. But if you follow up with in a few days of meeting someone, you can start to plant the seeds for that relationship. It just takes a quick phone call or email to let the person know you enjoyed meeting them and asking them to grab coffee or lunch with you.
For tips on how to grow and nurture your network, check out our website at
Blog written by Erin Greenhalgh