With a lot of successful people crediting having and knowing the right people as a huge part of their success, it’s hard to deny just how important networking is. Kevin Granville of The New York Times shares how having a solid and well-rounded network is important in having a good foundation for a vibrant and fruitful career. The more you grow your network, the more doors to new and better opportunities will present themselves to you.
To help you build and grow your professional network, here are five networking opportunities you might not have been taking advantage of:
1. Social Media Platforms
Social media platforms are a fun and convenient way to connect with new people with the same interests as you. A great example for this is the use of Twitter’s hashtag chat. A hashtag chat is a regular conversation wherein a Twitter user acts as moderator for the discussion of a specific topic through questions, with anybody on the platform free to participate.
Another easy way to expand your network is through Bumble Bizz, a new feature of the social and dating application Bumble. Users of Bumble Bizz can showcase their professional background and can even specify what they’re looking for — from networking to full-time jobs. A great way to utilize features like this and gain more interest is by showing off your Switchit digital business card, the only business card with a built-in video component.
2. Distance Learning or E-learning
Those who are currently studying online may think that distance learning limits their networking capabilities. But learning online gives you the chance to connect with people from different countries and backgrounds who are interested in learning the same stuff as you. To begin, try and see the type of students your online learning institution tends to accept, or what programs they have in place for graduate linkages. For its part, administrators at Maryville University have partnered with the likes of Boeing and Edward Jones to equip students with the skills needed for the opportunities of tomorrow, but this also means that students will be exposed to industry professionals from these partner institutions, too. In this way, you can expand your networking opportunities not only to students and professors, but also those who are already working in the field. Remember that the easiest way to initiate a conversation online is by asking a question that would definitely warrant a reply.
3. Volunteer Work
Other than allowing you to do good for your community, The Muse points out that volunteer work is a great way to meet new people, especially when it’s an organization you support and whose values you’d like to emulate. If you are unemployed, volunteer in a field that is connected to the job you want. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, create a poster or pamphlet for a program hosted by a non-profit organization. Another choice is to volunteer outside of your career area. This will help you gain knowledge in a new field that you might be interested in, but nevertheless, it will still connect you to people from different backgrounds and interests.
4. Fitness Networking
If you have a gym membership or go to some sort of physical activity class (yoga, pole dance, martial arts, etc.), you already have an opportunity to meet potential business contacts without having to do anything out of your usual routine.
Our very own Daafram Campbell previously gave great tips on how to successfully grow your network in scenarios like this. He said to make sure to greet people with a smile and steady handshake. He also warns us not to rush conversations to make conversations more organic. So, next time you head to a fitness class, why don’t you try introducing yourself to the person next to you?
5. Social Events
Lastly, developing new professional contacts is also possible in different social and cultural events. From birthday parties to concerts and street fair to food festivals, there is always an opportunity to find a potential business contact. Put your best foot forward for every new interaction but don’t forget to be genuine to yourself. At the end of the day, your networking should focus on you — on how you see yourself, what you value and what keeps you motivated to keep going. Focus more on that and you would more than likely find and have the right people with you as you go on with your career.
Guest post written by Jill Bern