Networking 101: How to Enhance Your Professional Network
In our last blog post, we discussed the importance of building, growing, and cultivating a solid network of industry professionals – and we’re back to share a few tips on how to do just that! As you learn and grow in your career, you will encounter many professionals who can share valuable insight and wisdom as you determine the right paths for you.
As a new professional, or even a seasoned one, networking can be intimidating when you aren’t familiar with how to build connections. Here are a few ideas to help you grow your professional network:
- Lean on those you know – throughout college or trade school, and into your early career, you’ve already established a small network, whether you realize it or not. Don’t be afraid to reach out to professors and trusted advisors to help you make connections among those in their own professional networks. This early network also extends to friends, roommates, or other students in clubs/organizations in your field of study. As you develop that first layer of relationships, be mindful of how these people can help connect you – and in turn, you can help connect them – as you get ready to embark on the next phase of your life.
- Utilize industry opportunities to grow – no matter the industry you choose to enter, there’s a good chance that there are established groups that can help you learn. For example, if you wish to excel in the energy industry, there are multiple groups in the region that you can plug into to meet new people and learn new things. Regardless of how you fit into the industry, there is a group for you – American Association of Drilling Engineers, Society of Petroleum Engineers, and Women’s Energy Network all have local affiliates that host regular events to connect people across the region.
- Curiosity is a good thing – when opportunities to network arise at work functions or industry events, it’s vital to be ready to engage with those you meet. Having a list of easy, yet insightful questions in your mind can help make conversations with new people a breeze! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- How did you choose your profession and how did you get started?
- What excites you about the industry/role that you are in?
- If you had one piece of advice for someone early in their career, what would it be?
- Similarly, if you are a seasoned professional, ask those early in their career what their future career goals might be.
- Follow up quickly to stay connected – it’s incredibly helpful to stay connected to those you meet. Whether it’s an exchange of business cards at the event with a quick email the next day – or a request to connect on LinkedIn, following up with professional connections ensures an easier touchpoint for future conversations.
Building and nurturing connections can help position you for success in the future – you never know who might have a fantastic job opportunity in the coming years. And most importantly, as you grow in your career, be sure to connect with those new in their own careers and help foster the future of the workforce by sharing your knowledge and expertise with the next generation.