Social Capital Is Like Money in the Bank

Building a network of colleagues and friends is an essential part of working and advancing in your career. Several techniques make it as painless as possible. 

Networking is a must; there’s no opting out. People change jobs, move to different cities, navigate gig jobs or self-employment. To succeed in this complex and ever-shifting business environment, people rely more than ever before on their network of professional connections for information, business leads and job opportunities. Luckily, it’s also easier than ever to meet people. 

The Basics 

Networking doesn’t have to be stressful. If you think about it, you’re networking every time you meet somebody and tell them about your work. Networking events can make anyone feel awkward. Keep these tips in mind when the opportunity arises to introduce yourself to others:  

  • Look people in the eye. 
  • Ask questions about the other person to break the ice, such as “What do you do for a living?” and “How did you get started?”
  • Really listen to the answer to make a meaningful connection. 
  • Remember others might be feeling as awkward as you feel. 
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Face to Face

You may love technology, but it’s the power of personal connection that will propel you to the top.

Brian Grazer Simon & Schuster

Movie producer Brian Grazer credits much of his success to the “curiosity conversations” he’s in the habit of having with experts from all walks of life. He approaches each of them with an open mind. His genuine curiosity helps him forge connections that turn into long-term friendships and collaborations. 

Networking Is About Making New Friends 

  • Decide who you want to reach out to.  
  • Are you trying to find more customers? Are you trying to connect with peers in your industry?  
  • Figure out where the people you want to meet hang out, whether online or at local events.  
  • Keep in touch; don’t just reach out when you need something. 
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New Business Networking

You can create a business network on- and offline to help you in almost everything you do.

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The more people you know in your field, or, more correctly, who know you, the better you’ll be able to keep up with your industry’s news and emerging opportunities. Try the “working out loud” method to clarify your own goals and figure out what you can contribute to your networks.  

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Working Out Loud

Working Out Loud is networking, with a human twist.

John Stepper Page Two Publishers

Word of mouth is often the best way to find out about great jobs opening up. Experts say the strongest networks are a mix of people both inside and outside your business sphere; sometimes “weak” connections are the most productive. Networking is a two-way street, so help others in your network as you may need their help another time. The best relationships are based on true mutual interest and trust. 

Strategies for Introverts 

If you are a bit shy with strangers, you can memorize a short, sweet statement about what you do to get the ball rolling in unfamiliar circumstances when you’re on the spot. Introverts may lack the social ease of extroverts, but their natural curiosity and perceptiveness will keep the conversation going.  

Digital tools make networking easier, especially for introverts. LinkedIn is a robust professional networking platform and a great place to look for job opportunities. Other social networks give you the chance to showcase your projects, your interests and your sense of humor. Keep your online profiles authentic, yet professional.  

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Taking the Work Out of Networking

With calculated use of social media and a few other strategies, even introverts can be great networkers.

Karen Wickre Gallery Books

Once you’ve got the basics down, practice your small talk. You never know what a short, polite conversation may lead to.  

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Small Talk

Why your business relationships may hinge on the large role of small talk.

Learn more about the ins and outs of networking: 

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Seven degrees of separation is six too many: How to network all your contacts into the perfect career.

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Many in the workplace play it safe and avoid conversations on touchy topics, such as politics or race. But the workplace is a microcosm where people of diverse backgrounds interact with each other every day. Bridging differences and turning diversity into an asset requires addressing difficult topics head-on – but in a civil, respectful manner.

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