8 Effective Networking Strategies for Professionals
People in all industries and positions often seek to develop meaningful relationships with other professionals. You can develop such relationships through specific networking strategies. Learning about these different strategies may help you create career plans and take part in relationship-building activities. In this article, we discuss the eight networking strategies that professionals commonly utilize.
What are networking strategies?
Networking strategies are activities or plans that help professionals meet and establish industry relationships. There are many strategies that people commonly use to help facilitate networking relationships, such as attending industry-based events or finding other professionals online.
Networking relationships are mutually beneficial because they provide opportunities to exchange advice, information, professional references and career advancement opportunities. If you are effective at networking, you may be able to improve career-related skills and develop partnerships that help you achieve your career goals.
List of networking strategies
Here is a list of eight common networking strategies you may employ:
Join a networking group
Networking groups help members from many industries and professions meet one another and exchange helpful information. These groups may have specific planned activities for each meeting, or they may allow members to dictate the content of the meetings. Networking groups often meet on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis.
Joining these groups is an effective networking strategy because it allows you to meet other professionals in an environment that promotes establishing relationships with new people. Additionally, if these groups meet in person, they may help you establish networking connections with professionals within your local community.
Related: 10 of the Best Places To Network
Utilize social media
Many social media platforms provide professionals with tools that can help them network with members of their community and other professionals within their industry. Some social media platforms are specifically for work-related connections, and many professionals commonly use them to manage networking relationships, discuss their work experience and find new positions.
Joining social media platforms can also help you connect with members of your own organization and stay connected to members of organizations that you've worked for throughout your career. This allows you to be available to provide references for others or easily ask for references from previous colleagues.
Grow a database of professional contacts
A database of professional contacts is a list of names, emails, phone numbers and other personal information of people you have met in a professional setting. These may be members of your own organization, members of partner organizations, hiring managers that interviewed you, previous managers and coworkers or members of networking groups.
Creating these databases may help you obtain contact information for specific people when seeking professional advice, applying to new positions and getting references. For example, if someone in your network knows a specific professional who you want to meet, having access to your contact's information can make this process easier.
Join industry groups
Many industries have groups that working professionals can join to network with members of other organizations within their industry. This can facilitate partnerships within the field, allow members to share industry strategies and help employees of competitor organizations establish positive relationships with one another. Members of such groups often share common interests and responsibilities because their organizations sell products or services within the same market, so these kinds of relationships can offer many benefits regarding career growth and skill development.
Attend conventions and conferences
Conventions and conferences often occur throughout the year, and they provide opportunities for professionals within the same industry to attend talks, make connections and participate in activities. This can lead to new projects and partnerships between members of different organizations.
For example, an atmospheric science conference may occur in a major city each year to allow scientists the opportunity to share their lab work and discuss important atmospheric research topics. A scientist at this convention may learn about how their research relates to someone else's, and in forming a networking relationship, they may continue to discuss their work after the conference and eventually find a way to collaborate.
Related: 5 Tips To Navigate Networking Events
Sending emails is an effective way to establish a connection, check in with people or communicate the same message to multiple people at the same time. When establishing a new professional contact, sending an email with an introduction and the reason for the email can help facilitate the connection. When writing to individuals in your network, asking questions about their recent work activities and sharing your own can help maintain a positive relationship. When emailing multiple people at the same time, you may seek advice, take a poll or inquire about creating a meetup.
Set up informational interviews
Informational interviews comprise asking an individual about their personal background, experience, skills and abilities in order to gain insight into their job or industry. Experienced professionals often make great candidates for informational interviews, as they have extensive experience and expertise in one or many subjects or industries. This information can help you determine how you'd like to advance your career or inform whether you'd like to make a career switch.
These interviews also provide you with the chance to develop one-on-one relationships with experienced individuals and make valuable networking connections. For instance, if you work as a software developer, conducting an informational interview with the CEO of a software development company may allow you to create a mentorship relationship or learn about trends in your field.
When establishing and maintaining networking connections, offering assistance is an effective way to develop stronger relationships. The type of assistance you provide may include giving professional advice, acting as a reference, facilitating a professional introduction, helping with a project or joining a board of advisors or directors.
These activities provide value to other people, which can reflect positively on you. For example, if you are attending an industry convention, you may offer assistance by introducing a coworker and a similar individual that you met while at the convention. In addition, offering assistance to others may allow you to ask for assistance more easily when you need it.
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