Getting your career off the ground is not easy. When you’re new to a job, a company, or an industry — or maybe all of the above — there is a lot to learn. But, what you lack in experience you make up for in effort and enthusiasm. Still, beginners often struggle with networking, and it’s an important part of launching your career and building your professional identity in earnest. So, here are some quick tips to help you get started.
1. Always be polite, humble, and professional.
You need to demonstrate the right attitude and observe proper etiquette when forging new professional connections, especially when you’re first getting started. You might feel excited to try to impress higher-ups and veteran colleagues with your ideas and perspectives, and that’s great. But, you also want to do a lot of listening. Demonstrate humility. Say thank you. And, be sure to be professional throughout your interactions with potential new members of your network. You want others to take you seriously; so, demonstrate that you take them, and the work, seriously too by projecting a professional attitude and energy whenever you interact.
2. Be prepared to invest real effort into the process.
Networking does take time and effort, so don’t be too passive about the process. Social media can sometimes give us the illusion of productivity. You check out some opportunities you come across via an old pal’s feed, and you feel like you did your networking work for the day. Social media is a good tool and you can utilize it your advantage, but don’t lean on it exclusively to build your network. Forge new connections in the real world when you can. Try to attend some events that could help you meet new people in your industry, for example. This stuff takes effort. So, be ready to invest some time and energy into the networking process.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
A little support goes a long way. You don’t need a formal mentor to get some help. It might be even better to find the people you connect with on your own. Ideally, you’ll have a few people you can connect with about your professional world. And, when you do, you want to ask them a lot of questions. It’s interesting to share your own experiences, of course. But, also try to keep in mind that you’ll learn a whole lot the more you ask questions and listen closely to the responses. This will also help others feel excited about helping you get started because they’ll trust that their efforts won’t go to waste. When you ask questions, you demonstrate respect and an eagerness to learn and grow. And that, in itself, will help you build your network.
4. Be natural.
Networking is such an intimidating word. But, when done well, it’s natural and relaxed. Basically, you just want to be yourself, but be your best self, and get out there and interact with other professionals as much as possible. When you’re comfortable, others are comfortable, too. Keep in mind that the best networking happens organically. Be yourself. And, be on the lookout for good opportunities to meet new people and be your best self.
5. Be patient.
It’s important to know that everything takes time. You’re learning so much right now. And, you’re getting a ton of practice, with so many different skills. Give yourself a break, take some deep breaths, and be patient. Building a strong professional network takes time. It also takes some time for the benefits of your connections to really come to fruition. Trust that the efforts you’re investing now will pay off down the road. And, try to enjoy the ride.
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