Updated: Oct 31, 2018
Written by Alyssa Wallen (Communication BA ‘15)
The New Year is upon us and many of us have resolutions and expectations as we enter 2018. Have you started planning for the next level in your career, but don’t know how to make that jump? Maybe you are just starting out in the professional world and don’t know where to start. Either way, here are five tips for building your network and creating meaningful interactions with others.
1.) Get to know your colleagues and create a good rapport
It is vital to learn about your colleagues’ strengths and create a good rapport with them. On average, we spend eight hours a day with our peers. However, what do you know about those who sit around you? Make it a priority to familiarize yourself within your division but learn to network in other areas of your organization. This can be done by simply extending an invitation to connect over coffee or lunch. Many of us have been in a position where we need a fresh perspective on a project or assistance with tasks outside of our scope. Getting to know your colleagues and having a good rapport will be an asset when you need to collaborate on projects in the future.
2.) Get connected on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is not a social media tool to be picked up and used every now and then. Make sure you are updating your profile with current and relevant information, awards, a professional photo, and be transparent about your skills. Recruiters and potential employers pay attention to your profile. Don’t be afraid to reach out to professionals you may not know. If there is someone in an industry that interests you, start a conversation by thanking them for connecting, introduce yourself, and explain why you are connecting. Get plugged into professional groups such as PRSA, AMA, or Network of Executive Women. This gives you access to events and an opportunity to meet likeminded professionals who may also introduce you to their networks as you build a relationship.
3.) Connect beyond the internet
Networking is about building relationships. In short, you need to figure out how to get from behind the screen and meet face to face. As mentioned above, find events you can attend or organizations you can volunteer with. These experiences will give you the opportunity to meet and network with new people and help you create meaningful interactions along the way. Over time you will find, building relationships can create a mentor or sponsor who can help support you when advocating for a promotion, seeking career advice or when you are ready to make a move in your career.
4.) Be Selfless and be authentic
What do I mean when I say “be selfless” and “be authentic”?
Sometimes, we forget that networking is not all about us. It is good to have expectations and goals while building your network, but keep in mind, it is not just about what you get from the experience. What can you offer others through authenticity? The same rules apply to networking as with building friendships. Make a point to really learn about others; including their interests, their skill set and what goals they have. Ask questions that will lead to more than just an answer, but that will require meaningful conversation. Ask them how you can help, by offering ideas leveraging your strengths and talent. Reach out to them when you see or hear of something relevant to what they have shared with you. Trust me, you’ll both leave feeling refreshed from an authentic conversation.
5.) Foster your networks
When you’re finished building a house, you must continue to maintain the property. If not, things will get out of hand and your house will slowly start to fall apart. The same principle applies to your network. It is vital to stay connected and maintain the relationships you have built, and continue to grow them in the future. Be intentional when reaching out. Now is a great time to send a quick note of appreciation and an invitation to re-connect in the New Year.
Finally, I want to challenge you to reach out to one person within the next few weeks and invite them to lunch or for coffee. Catch up and find out what is new in their life and discuss how you can help each other reach the goals you have created for the New Year. Looking for a way to connect with fellow alumni and get involved with UC Friends of Communication? We want to hear from you!
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