Networking is a vital part of career advancement for several reasons. For starters, it offers more contacts, each of which comes with their own unique skill set. It also gives you a larger pool of resources to pull from and more people to exchange ideas or knowledge with.
Finding these valuable contacts is not as difficult as many would think. In fact, it can be pretty easy to build a considerable network if you are simply diligent in the task of attending these networking opportunities.
The Best Networking Opportunities for Young Professionals
1. Industry Events
Industry events are the perfect networking opportunities to meet with other business professionals in the real world. Contacts created in-person can be much more personable than those met with online, despite online networking being significantly easier. To find events near you, check out MeetUp and EventBrite.
LinkedIn is the ultimate social media platform for budding young professionals. Unlike other social sites, LinkedIn is geared specifically towards professionals, and the profiles created read like resumes. In fact, it can even serve for getting you hired. With over 84 million professionals on the site, LinkedIn is the site to go to for young business people.
3. Facebook Groups
If like most people you already have a Facebook profile, then you can put it to good use. Use the search bar located at the top of your news feed to search for groups pertaining to your industry or niche. You can also join groups for entrepreneurs, local professionals, school alumni, and more.
Never discredit the unrivaled power of your coworkers in forming a network. One reason why your coworkers can actually end up being more valuable than other contacts you form is that they can be used as solid references when looking for a new job. Potential employers will place a lot of value on former coworkers because they can attest to your work ethic firsthand.
One very simple way to begin networking is through your friends. Chances are you have a handful of friends who are also in business. Even if they are not in the same industry or sector as you have chosen to be, they can still be helpful. Friends can also introduce you to their friends, who can introduce you to their friends. This is essentially the networking equivalent to word-of-mouth advertising.
Like work and friends, many young professionals fail to realize the vast networking opportunities they are presented with at school. Your classmates are working towards similar goals. Although they may not be important or high up in any companies right now, they could be later. It isn’t only your peers who could begin your network at school, but also teachers and other staff members.
Additional Networking Tips
The idea of attending networking opportunities can be a frightening one because it means you must reach out to strangers. In a very real way, you are marketing yourself to others. To this effect, you always want to market the best version of yourself to potential contacts. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when doing so.
- Always be polite and honest in your dealings with others.
- Put your best foot forward at all times – you never know when a potential contact will show themselves.
- Be friendly and open. This can be difficult for naturally shy individuals, but with practice, it gets easier.
- When going out in public, always be well-groomed. This includes cleaning beneath your fingernails and keeping facial hair trimmed.
- Be willing to help others as much as you wish them to help you.
- When you make a contact always connect with them via social platforms when possible. If they have LinkedIn, this is the preferred method.
Learn More About Networking at The Citadel
While we’ve laid out six great networking opportunities along with some networking tips in this post, there’s still so much more to being effective at this crucial piece of business! To learn more about networking and other activities essential to business, consider pursuing an online MBA from The Citadel. Our online classed provide the perfect platform for you to learn about business while maintaining your busy schedule.