Identify your network
Everyone you know is in your network! Build on your network by asking someone you know for one or two names and then ask those people for names. Here’s a list of ideas to get you started:
- family and friends
- co-workers (past and current)
- community members
- volunteer contacts
- professional groups
- school classmates, instructors, staff (college and high school)
- your college alumni association
Create a brief story (aka elevator pitch) highlighting your background and experience as it relates to what you are doing or want to be doing (for career changers). Practice your story. Use this story to introduce yourself to potential contacts. Always carry and use business cards.
Ask open-ended questions, listen, and be curious
Just as important as telling your story is listening to the stories of people with whom you wish to connect. Ask questions about their background, interests, advice, trends, etc.
Attend networking events
Some people loath the idea of attending networking events. Regardless of how you feel about such events, determine whether or not you think the event will benefit your objectives and if the right people will be there.
Offer to help on projects in the community or at work. Volunteer with an organization of interest. Set up coffee or lunch meetings with your connections. Take a class. Try something new.
Become a connector
Help those in your network connect with others in order to build their own networks.
Be intentional about social media
Trying to connect with someone at a specific organization? Ask your social media contacts if they know anyone there. Connect or reconnect with former classmates, coworkers, friends, etc.