Having a strong professional network is crucial for career growth and opportunities. However, actively expanding your network can be challenging. Here are 6 tips to rapidly grow your professional contacts:
1. Leverage LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the premier platform for professional networking. Be sure to fill out your profile completely and include all relevant experience. Connect with colleagues, classmates, clients, and recruiters. Join industry-specific LinkedIn groups to connect with like-minded professionals. Participate in group discussions and share relevant content. Send personalized connection requests and optimize your profile for discoverability.
2. Attend Industry Events
Industry events like conferences, trade shows and networking meetups are prime opportunities to make new contacts. Come prepared with business cards and rehearse your elevator pitch. Set a goal for how many people you want to interact with. Follow up with your new connections and add them on LinkedIn. See if there are ways to continue the conversation and build rapport.
3. Leverage Your Existing Contacts
Your current colleagues, clients or business contacts likely have their own professional networks to tap into. Ask your existing contacts for introductions to professionals in your industry or people at organizations you wish to work for. Offer to return the favor by making introductions for them.
4. Connect with Alumni
Fellow alumni are often willing to help recent graduates. Tap into alumni directories on LinkedIn or through your school. Attend alumni association events and talks on campus. Message alumni who work in your desired industry and ask for informational interviews. Offer to take them out for coffee to pick their brain.
5. Volunteer Your Expertise
Volunteering is a great way to expand your network while giving back. Provide pro-bono services to nonprofits or volunteer expertise to startups. This helps build rapport with other volunteers and exposes you to potential mentors. Sign up on sites like Catchafire to volunteer professional skills.
6. Follow Companies You Want to Work For
Follow companies you’re interested in on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Engage with their content and join discussions. Follow employees who work there, especially recruiters and hiring managers. This increases your discoverability for job opportunities. When positions open up, you can leverage these connections.
Expanding your professional network requires persistence but yields invaluable results for your career. Use these tips to build valuable relationships in your industry and unlock new opportunities.
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