You’re probably spending a lot of time working on your resume and networking to land that perfect job. But how can you take your career to the next level? Expand your network.
Whether you’re job searching or looking to advance your career, you need to build relationships with people who can help you succeed. And that doesn’t just mean hooking up with people who have a similar background to you. It means cultivating personal relationships that can help you succeed.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to expand your network from the ground up. From understanding your network and the value of an expansive network to creating and cultivating relationships. Keep reading to discover 16 ways to expand your network.
Step 1: Define Who You Would Like To Connect With
The first step to expanding your network is to define who you would like to connect with. As you’re building your network, the most important thing you can do is define the people you want to connect with. This will help you focus your energy and establish a more targeted approach.
Start by writing down some of your personal goals and making a list of the people you would like to help you achieve them. Be sure to also consider the types of connections you would like to strengthen. For example, if you’re looking for a job transition, you may want to focus on connections in your industry that are current employees looking for other employees to help them advance in their careers. If you’re looking to meet leaders in your field, you may want to look into connections in other industries and companies.
Step 2: Reach Out To Someone You Wouldn’t ordinarily
Once you have your list of connections, it’s time to start making connections. If you’re meeting new people for the first time, reach out to someone you wouldn’t necessarily think of as a connection. This can be a colleague or an acquaintance. Introduce yourself, and let them know what you’re interested in and looking for.
Once you start meeting people and making connections, you’ll start to recognize who you can contact with ease. But if you’re looking for someone outside your circle, it can feel overwhelming.
Step 3: Ask For a referral
Another way to make connections is to ask for a referral. You may be familiar with the saying, “People are usually more inclined to give than to receive.” If you’re familiar with this saying, there’s a good reason for it: When someone has something to give, they’re usually more inclined to offer it.
When looking for a job, it can be especially challenging to meet with hiring managers who are also looking for candidates. But you can turn that challenge into an advantage by leveraging referrals. Ask your friends, colleagues, and connections for recommendations on who they think is the best fit for the position.
Step 4: Attend Networking Events
One of the best ways to make connections is through in-person events. For example, you can join your local Chamber’s events or attend local events that are hosted by your industry’s association. You can also take advantage of events that are celebrating and recognizing someone. Often, these events include panels and roundtables where you can meet and make connections. You can also find events that are specifically designed to help you meet with clients and employers.
Step 5: Ask For a mentor or executive coach
If you’re looking for a more formal mentoring or executive coaching relationship, you can reach out to people you admire and ask to meet with them. For example, you can invite someone you admire to coffee and ask them to meet with you for 30 minutes to discuss your career and how they got to where they are.
Alternatively, you can reach out to your professional associations and find a coach who specializes in helping people in your industry. As with mentors, these relationships should be on a more informal basis as you want to develop a relationship with someone that is tailored to your needs.
Step 6: Attend Events That Are Celebrating And Recognizing Someone
Another great way to connect with people is through events that are celebrating and recognizing someone. Often, these events are hosted by your community foundations, charities, and business associations.
These types of events are a great way to meet people who are also interested in the same things you are. For example, if you’re celebrating and recognizing a business leader, chances are there will be a lot of people interested in meeting with them. By attending these types of events, you can meet new people and make connections with ease.
Step 7: Ask To Be Included In Group Emails
Another way to make connections is by adding people you want to connect with to group emails. For example, if you’re part of a local networking group, you can add people you want to connect with to the group email.
One reason you may not have been adding people to the group email is that you were too shy to add someone to an email full of strangers. But by adding everyone to the group email, you’re not shy to add people to the group.
Step 8: Ask For an endorsement or recommendation
When you’re meeting new people, it’s helpful to have someone you can reference to get an endorsement for the person. For example, you can ask a friend who knows the person you’re meeting how they would rate the person. This will give you a reference you can use to share the person’s resume, ask for recommendations, or share your comments.
Another great way to reference someone is to reference someone who has endorsed you. For example, if you’re meeting with a hiring manager, you can reference a friend who works at the company. You can also reference someone who has worked with a friend or colleague who is hiring.
Step 9: Ask For An Internal Meeting
Internal meetings are an easy way to make connections and meet people because they usually don’t require any extra work. You just need to show up to the meeting.
Internal meetings are also a great way to meet people who are currently in the same position as you. Looking to make a change? This is a great way to find out what’s involved and make a decision about your career path.
Step 10: Ask To See The Person’s Daily Work Email
When you’re making connections, it’s helpful to add the person to your Outlook email so you can stay connected. During your interviews, you can ask for their LinkedIn profile URL or their contact information (phone number or email) so you can stay connected without waiting for them to reach out. You may also be able to add them to your network on LinkedIn or request they be added to your network on Facebook.
The best way to expand your network is by being intentional and proactive.
Be proactive and intentional by defining who you would like to connect with and reaching out to them.
Build your network by reaching out to people you wouldn’t ordinarily think of as connections and adding them to your network.
Attend events that are celebrating and recognizing someone and make connections through those events.
Ask for a referral, endorsement, or recommendation when meeting new people.
Attend internal meetings so you can stay connected with your colleagues and make connections through those meetings.