Back in my high school days (not to sound like an abuela) I was the person, amongst my friends, that always knew where all the parties were. I can say confidently that I was friends with different people, in different circles, from different cities and little did I know at 16, I was developing networking skills. Developing networking skills is crucial for everyone and anyone. What are networking skills? In a nutshell, it’s the ability to market who you are to others in hopes to make lasting connections. These connections ultimately create a circle of support and guidance.
first things first
Networking requires you to put yourself out there and market yourself. This can be terrifying for some and a high for others. So where to start? First make sure you have a good understanding of who you are. It sounds cheesy but by knowing you who you are and what you are after, allows your confidence to illuminate. You’re able to be yourself and make a connection that only you can offer. After all, “no one is you and that is your power”.
Make connections at work
No matter where you work, make lasting connections with your coworkers. Reach out to others in different departments you are interested in. Once in a company, It can be a bit easier to network for the following reasons. One, you’re on the same team and it’s easier to show your work ethic and two, your work emails are unlikely to be sent to the spam folder. When I was working for Delta, I remember itching to do something more. I did some research, always do your research, and found a few individuals that worked in the communications department. I sent an email out, pitching who I am, my interests and ideas I had. next thing I knew, I was coordinating our station’s first blood drive.
When I first started going to events, I used to have so much anxiety. After attending more and more, the more I realized thats everyone is nervous and there for the same reasons as me, to network! Everyone is looking to connect, add to their circles and learn from more individuals. Some tips to keep handy: One, be prepared by having business cards. Two, know how to use the QR code feature on LinkedIn to add new connections on the spot. Three, write notes to keep track of who is who and what you spoke about. Three, be ready to pitch “who you are” and “what you do” over and over. Four, no matter the barrier, reach out to the organization hosting hosting the event and inquire about volunteering. And five, always follow up.
The best way to find out about events happening in your area is by joining virtual communities. Especially now, virtual communities are dominating with virtual social events, free summits and so many opportunities to connect with people around the world. I love making new friends and meeting new people, and its with these connections I have been able to grow, feel supported and return the favor. It’s important to surround yourself with friends, peers and mentors that are looking to lift up one another.
Here is a list of online communities I am proud to be a part of. I met incredible individuals that I get to call friends and mentors. Check them out and feel free to join!
Where can you find other virtual communities that pertain to your interests?
- Google search
- Facebook Groups; search an interest i.e travel group
- Company of Employment
The Follow Up
Follow up with a new connection via text, email or any other platform. I personally like to use LinkedIn. Invite them out to coffee and keep in touch. Also, remember to network with past coworkers and old friends by staying in touch and checking in. Simple gestures go a long way and going the extra mile will really pay off. Here’s an example of what I typically like to send after an event.
Hey [name here], it was really great meeting you/connecting with you at [event]! I enjoyed talking about [conversation topic]. Let me know when you’re free to grab coffee and chat some more.
Don’t overthink it, just be you or the version you are aspiring to be! Remember that your network will continue to have your back and support you, as long as you are showing up and supporting them. Networking will open many doors of opportunity. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there because you never know how the people you meet today will come full circle in your career and in life later, and the best bosses know that they didn’t get to where they are without networking!