Having a strong network of business contacts can really help out your career. But how do you build a network? In this lesson, we’ll look at ways to make contacts, including tips for networking.

Networking

Mikey is graduating college soon, and he’s looking for a job. But things are competitive, and there just aren’t many job postings out there. What can he do?

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Bertha is a little different from Mikey. She graduated a few years ago and has been working at a job ever since. But she wants to move forward in her career, and she needs some guidance. She really wants a mentor, or an advisor, who can give her advice on how to move ahead.

For both Bertha and Mikey, making contacts in business can play a crucial role in getting them what they want and need. Interacting with people to build business relationships is called networking, and it is an integral part of most people’s career.

Why should Mikey and Bertha network? There are many benefits to networking. Mikey and Bertha represent two of the main ones: job opportunities and mentors. Networking can turn up both of these things for people. Mikey, for example, might find that someone he establishes a relationship with knows of a job in their company that they can recommend him for. In fact, many jobs are never posted. Instead, they are filled by people that someone in the organization knows.

Tips for Networking

So, Mikey could find a job through networking, and Bertha could find a mentor through her network of professional contacts. But how, exactly, should they network? There are many ways to network, but there are a few tips that can help both Mikey and Bertha and other people like them to be successful at networking.

1. Bond over more than business

It’s important to have a business-oriented relationship but long-lasting relationships involve more than business. Whether it’s a shared love for coffee or a favorite band, having something in common outside of business can help cement a networked relationship.

Bertha, for example, is looking for a mentor. When she talks to people in her network, she finds several people who might make a good mentor businesswise but will she get along with them? Will they want to work together over time? Bonding over something other than just business can help Bertha form a strong relationship that will last over time.

2. Don’t ask for something right away

When you first meet someone and add them to your network, it’s bad form to ask for a favor immediately. For example, if Mikey meets someone at a conference, he shouldn’t immediately ask for the new friend to get him a job at the friend’s company. It’s okay for Mikey to mention that he’s looking for a job but the focus at the beginning should be on building the relationship. After a while, it’s okay to ask for favors.

3. Stay in touch

It’s very easy to lose touch with people. Mikey and Bertha are both very busy people, and staying in touch with their networks can be difficult. But checking in with contacts regularly, like sending an email on their birthday, sharing an article that might interest them or catching up over coffee, can keep their network strong.

4. Give back when you can

Mikey is looking for a job, and Bertha is looking for a mentor. Both of them will depend on people from their network to help out. But if all they ever do is get help from the people in their network, they’ll soon find themselves in a corner without anyone wanting to help them out. So when there’s a way to help others in their network – say, Bertha’s company is hiring and she can help Mikey get a job or Mikey knows a guy who would be a good mentor for Bertha – they should go for it.

In Person vs. Online

Okay, so Mikey and Bertha are convinced that they need to be networking, and they think the tips we just talked about are good ideas. But where do they find contacts to add to their network? How do they build a network?

There are two major types of networking: in person and online. For both of these, the tips we just looked at will work well, but there are differences in how Mikey and Bertha will find their contacts.

Take Mikey, for example. He is going to focus his efforts on in-person networking. He can go to networking events, join college or social clubs or go to conferences to meet new people who are in his industry.

Bertha, though, doesn’t have as much time as Mikey because she’s working full-time. It’s more difficult for her to go to conferences or networking events. She’s decided to focus her networking energy online. Social networking sites that focus on business networking are a good way to reach out to people. Starting with people that she knows, Bertha can then reach out to people that they know. And she can join online groups to meet new people, as well.

Of course, the best approach is a blended approach. Networking both in person and online can double a person’s chances of finding new contacts.

Lesson Summary

Networking involves interacting with people to build business relationships. It can occur both in person and online and is a good way to make contacts that can help you in your career. When networking, it is important to bond over more than business, don’t ask for something right away, stay in touch and give back when you can.

Learning Outcomes

The video lesson was designed to help you do the following:

  • Understand the meanings of networking and mentor
  • Discuss the advantages of networking
  • Recall different tips for successful networking
  • Highlight two major kinds of networking