networking

To get ahead in your career, it helps to have connections that can lead to bigger and better things. From schmoozing and scheduling to socializing and speaking, networking is a nice way to grow both personally and professionally.

It can take some practice to get your networking skills down but as you continue to meet new people and perfect your pitch, you will find that networking can enhance your professionalism and productivity.

Here are some wonderful ways to network, from online to in-person. Try one or test them all, as the more you expand your circle, the better your chance for meeting the right people who can steer you towards success. And vice versa.

Trade Show/Conference

Trade show customerattraction.com

Big and bustling, trade shows and conferences reel in the masses. As you spend a day or two networking in a "big pond," you'll work the room and make the most of like-minded individuals who converge to connect. As recommended by Idealist Careers, "If you can, figure out who will be at the conference ahead of time and try schedule a time to meet." This way, you can hone in on a few key people who will bring the "quality" to the "quantity." Then again, you never know who you may bump into, so leave your options open and be willing to keep your schedule loose. Exchange contact info and follow up swiftly.

LinkedIn

LinkedInhttps://im.mtv.fi

Hop online and use the power of the web to work up key connections. As Walsworth notes, "Like any social site, LinkedIn is about networking, but because it is a site that's focused on professionals and businesses, your company can network effectively with prospective client organizations." Just remember, this isn't like Facebook or Twitter where the entertainment value is at the forefront. Walsworth recommends, "Don't link with people just to build the number of connections you have. Use your connect requests more strategically to engage and build relationships with your target customers and influencers in your market space." Like Dummies points out, "You can connect with past co-workers, employers, and Fortune 500 executives. You never know who will accept your invitation."

College Alumni Association

Alumni association www.lycoming.edu

The perks of a college education don't end at graduation. Keep your college connections current by being actively involved with your alumni association. As per The Muse, "If you live in a large city, there's likely some kind of alumni organization already set up there. Either way though, you should reach out to your school's alumni center and ask how to get in touch with local alums. Then, take the next step and actually attend the events." Having that common bond breaks the ice. The next step is to find ways to move from the classroom to the board room and prove that your alma mater matters.

Past Employers

Past employer economicdevelopment.org

No matter your reason for moving on from a previous job, maintaining a professional and cordial relationship with past employer(s) can help you down the line. Never leave a job with a bad taste in anyone's mouth, even if you were fired or left on less-than-ideal terms. As The Muse explains, "Upper level managers tend to be well-connected. So, maintaining a friendly relationship with previous employers is important and beneficial for you in the long run. They'll likely be willing to introduce you to some of their own connections, as well as give you a heads up about opportunities you might be interested in." One day, when you're in their position, you can pay it forward to the up-and-comers seeking your level of success.

Charity Events/Volunteer

Volunteer media.glassdoor.com

Giving back is a gift in of itself, but your charitable sensibilities can help you in your professional life too. This win-win scenario is a surefire way to network with both care and a cause in mind. According to Small Biz Club, "Charity events are often the best place to meet wealthy and serious investors, and attending an industry-specific charity event can be a boon to your business in terms of networking." Idealist Careers adds, "Volunteering allows you to help others, meet people who share your passion, and learn more about your community." And isn't that what networking is all about?

So go on. Get out there and network! New faces, new places, and new experiences are waiting for you to make the first move.

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Meeting the right people and making the most of those interactions is what effective networking is all about. Over the course of your career, you'll have plenty of opportunities to network, be it one-on-one or at conventions, trade shows, and the like. But there is more to networking than showing up and exchanging handshakes and business cards. When you have the chance to meet and mingle, follow these five success-boosting strategies to network like you mean it! You never know who you'll meet and how your career path can benefit from the engaging encounter.

Mix and minglegevme.com

Be Conversational, Not "Salesy"

The best way to get off on the right foot is by being genuine. Sales pitches and prepared lingo will come off as inauthentic and give the impression that you may as well be talking to anyone. Be natural and conversational, and let the meeting take shape organically.

As Entrepreneur suggests, "Keep your exchange fun, light and informal – you don't need to do the hard sell within minutes of meeting a person. The idea is to get the conversation started. People are more apt to do business with – or partner with – people whose company they enjoy. Remember, networking is all about relationship building."

Stay Focused

If you find yourself networking within a large crowd at a convention-type setting, it may seem near impossible to concentrate. But you will need to drown out the noise, ignore the chaos, and direct your attention on the person you are talking with at any particular moment. Because if they feel they don't have 100% of your concentration, you may find yourself leaving a poor impression.

Sally Haver, a senior VP at The Ayers Group tells Monster, "When people spend 50 percent of the time looking over my shoulder, I don't feel warm and fuzzy." The grass may be greener on the other side (of the room) but give the person you are speaking with the respect they deserve. Dismissing someone in the hopes of finding that "bigger and better" attendee can result in you standing alone.

Listen (at least as much as you talk)

When time is limited, you may be inclined to talk yourself up. Sure, people want to hear about who you are and what you do, but they are part of the interaction too. This isn't Shark Tank. It's not all about pitching yourself with the goal of getting something in return. Networking is a two-way street with plenty of room for everyone to share the road.

As Entrepreneur recommends, "Don't hijack the conversation. The most successful networkers (think of those you've met) are good at making other people feel special. Look people in the eye, repeat their name, listen to what they have to say, and suggest topics that are easy to discuss. Be a conversationalist, not a talker."

What Can You Offer?

Yes, you want to network to benefit your own agenda, but by helping others, you'll help yourself in the process. As Inc. notes, "If you want to connect with someone, find a way to help that person. It's always worth the trouble to find out a contact's desires and concerns. The chances are high that you'll be able to find something worthwhile you can offer. It's easy to assume that a wealthy and successful contact already has everything he or she desires and wants nothing from the likes of you. If you're thinking that way, get over it."

Monster adds, "There's no better way to establish a business networking relationship than to contribute to the solution of your new contact's pressing problem. If someone states a challenge that they're facing, respond—no later than the next morning—with something of value that addresses their issue."

As Inc. puts it, "Be generous. That doesn't mean you should only reach out to contacts or do things for them when you expect something in return."

As they say, "Do unto others…"

Keep in Touch

Networking doesn't end when the meeting is over. The whole point is to establish an ongoing rapport that will propel both parties towards a better working relationship that is mutually beneficial.

As Monster recommends, "Set yourself up for the next contact. If you intuit that a new contact will have lasting value, start building a bridge to your next exchange before you say your first good-bye."

Entrepreneur suggests, "Get in touch within 48 hours of the event to show you're interested and available, and reference something you discussed, so your contact remembers you."

Keep connected, stay in touch, and see how your relationship can flourish as you advance in your careers.

Network for successcareer.uconn.edu

The next time you network, you'll have the tools to make every moment worth everyone's while. Make networking really work!

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LinkedIn is the leading social media platform for professional networking. At this point, if you're looking for a job (especially in a communications field), you are basically required to have an account. However, don't look at setting up a LinkedIn as extra work. Think of it as an extra opportunity to explain yourself and sell yourself to potential employers. After you've uploaded a photo, there's still quite a lot to do.

1. Leave nothing blank

Make sure you fill out every possible space on your profile. Don't leave any blank space at all. This includes the summary space at the top and descriptions of all of your positions throughout the page. Don't skimp out. To get started, you can copy over what you already have on your résumé. But where needed, not be afraid to expand with more details. You have more space on LinkedIn to explain your experience than you do on a traditional résumé. Don't waste it.

2. Include links and multimedia content

Other perks of LinkedIn that you don't get on your résumé are links and multimedia content. Where applicable, link to your work. Include videos and visuals as they relate to different positions that you've had. This will not only make your profile more visually appealing, but will also prove your experience even further.

3. Don't forget the education and awards sections

LinkedIn has options for many different types of content. If you've handled several big projects, you can easily add them. If you've done a lot of volunteer work or published essays or scientific articles, you can add those too. But don't forget to include your education. Awards look especially impressive if you have any that are applicable.

4. Get endorsements for your skills

At the very bottom of your profile, you can list skills that you have. LinkedIn also allows other users to endorse each other for their skills. Having more endorsements shows employers that you can be trusted and not just lying to boost your résumé. Your connections can also recommend you on your profile. Make sure you ask your work friends and colleagues to endorse you on your profile. And don't forget to give your own recommendations and endorsements too. If you offer your own endorsements, people are more likely to endorse you in turn.

5. Keep your profile readable and easy to understand

You can add so many details to your LinkedIn profile. It's a great resource, but don't make it too busy or unreadable. Keep your descriptions clear, succinct and to the point. You want someone to be able to skim or scan through your profile and still understand what you're saying.

6. Never turn down a connection

A core feature of LinkedIn is connecting with other users. This is similar to a friend request on Facebook. Try not to ever turn down a connection if you can help it. LinkedIn is a less personal platform than Facebook. You don't need to censor who you're connected with. Accepting more connections will grow your professional network. And in a job search, connections are almost as important as qualifications.


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Shapr

Sometimes it feels like it's impossible to meet new people and make real connections. Everyone is busy with the hustle and bustle of everyday life and where are you supposed to meet people anyway? In college, you could meet in classes and connect through mutual interests or assignments. But once you've entered into the workplace, that all seems to change and become much more difficult. There's a new free app called Shapr that recognized this problem and attempted to fix it, or at least make it much easier to network.

Shapr is kind of like a mashup between a dating app and LinkedIn. Once you've signed up for the app and filled out your profile, it suggests people in your area based on your interests, location and professional experience. Just like Tinder or Bumble, you swipe (anonymously) and will be notified of a match when the algorithm matches your shared interests, but rather than a romantic match you'll meet your professional match. According to their site, some of the top things people are seeking through networking is ideas and inspiration, funding, potential investment, mentorship, new talent, freelance projects, and meeting new friends.

Shapr

Rather than continuing the fruitless attempt at making virtual "connections," the Shapr app helps to match you with people who have similar values and goals. With this app, you can be matched with 10-15 new people a day and meet up in person to talk about your next big idea or even collaborate on a project together. The Shapr blog lists success stories from people finding new jobs to helping people chase their passions and overcome their fears. Shapr is quickly becoming an app that's not only important for networking but also an excellent resource for people of all ages and at all experience levels.

Shapr

According to their site, "Networking should be a joyful experience, because It's about meeting new people. It's not just a trick to generate more sales or find some humdrum job – we see it as a lifestyle. Connecting regularly with inspiring individuals is the key to a more meaningful, fulfilling, healthy existence. And that's why we made an app."

Shapr

Perhaps you're looking for friends with shared interests, a mentor in your chosen field, or someone to collaborate with, but no matter the reason, Shapr is sure to have someone (or many) for you to connect with. And in this busy world that may be just what you need.