Professional Networking: Tips on How to Expand Your Social Network

Written by Andrea Sours
Graphic Design by Mabel Zapata-Jaquez

Many need help getting their desired career. After searching desperately for an answer, they may find themselves drawing blanks. You may be one of those people wondering what you are doing wrong. Perhaps you have done hours of research trying to find that answer. You may feel called out after reading the previous sentence. Maybe you think I’m a mind reader for calling you out for feeling called out in the second last sentence. And the cycle continues…

You may have discovered many factors to getting a career in your research. From resume writing, job finding, interviews, and beyond. Who thought getting a career would be so complicated?

Many of you may think, “I would rather take a high school test than deal with this!” What if I told you I know one way to help you get your desired career?

One of the most important things to do for your career is network. And I am not talking about wiring cords. Through this process, I guarantee you will see a shining light on your path to success.

Networking? What In Tarnation Is That?

I’m a girl determined to pave a path toward success in my future. So, if becoming a networking professional is one of the things it takes, then like in poker, you know I am going all in. Through my share of networking, I met a knowledgeable businesswoman nicknamed SJ. She taught me about the ins and outs of the process. Imagine how much I can learn from hundreds of people if one could teach me that much!

Networking is the key element of building business connections. I discovered there are many benefits you can get through networking. And these can come from everyone you network with. One could connect you with a hundred other people. So after making the right moves, you can have a lot of connections. Having connections assists you, but you need to know what to do with them. You could say the benefits of networking represent the chips in poker.

Net-tastic Career Essentials

You will benefit from networking, no matter who you are or your situation. Perhaps you are searching for your passion. Perhaps you are looking for better deals. Perhaps you are sick and tired of your nine-to-five job and want a change. With a schedule like that, no wonder you are tired! But no matter the case, networking can be one of many solutions!

My dream is to become a professional screenwriter. Several solutions exist to accomplish this goal, but one major path comes to mind. You guessed it, networking. There are many people involved in the creation of a script project. These include actors, designers, directors, producers, and a hundred other jobs. Yes, a hundred. Networking is essential to all jobs, and everyone you meet can serve many factors of value. Even the sanitation worker who comes by every Tuesday morning. Without them, you will be in a trashy situation.

Think about anyone in a business. If everyone did everything independently, that would be a lot of work. While one is capable of a lot, a whole team will make things go by much faster. And if you ever need advice or solutions, it’s better to have an entire network to assist you. Through networking, you can each exchange ideas and knowledge. Even if someone you reach out to can’t help you, they may be able to connect you with someone who can. Perhaps that sanitation worker is also the solution to your problems.

Improve My Communication, Give Me A Break

One of the benefits you get from networking is improving your soft skills. Communication is one of the adequate skills for this. You can’t exactly connect if you lack this. Did you ever get mini heart attacks from school presentations? You need to develop this key element of communication to grow and succeed. That way, you will not pass out while trying to connect.

This involves communicating verbally, online, and in any other way you can think of. It is all part of professional life. Being able to communicate is one thing, but improving it to an advanced level is another.

If you already have personal relationships, this is where you start. The people you already know are the start of your network! Make conversation with these people to practice for when you create new relationships. You can get to know other people through the people you already know. Not only does this improve your communication, but it also increases your network growth.

And keep in mind this quote by Tim Sanders, “Your network is your net worth.” So to anyone who wants a Lamborghini this Christmas, networking is key.

Connections Vs. Relationships: Let The Battle Commence!

Some people think that connections and relationships are the same things. Those people are wrong. While the two terms are similar, there is one clear border between them. Connections are someone you are in touch with and work with inside your organization. Relationships are those you have personal and genuine friendships with.

Everything you have with your connections is business–sounds pretty serious and boring. They are another person inside your network, nothing more. A relationship is much more complicated than that. You are not just business colleagues or members of the same organization. Whether or not they are part of your internal network, you deeply know them and bond with them.

For example, a connection would be the janitor you always see at your company. You only interact when they laugh at you for slipping on their wet floors. A relationship would be your manager who bursts into your house and raids your fridge. Sure, you often discuss data, media, news, or a business article related to your company. But over a game of Monopoly and iced mochas, you also discuss interests and beyond. With this, you have a meaningful bond.

On Your Mark, Get Set, Network

Every journey has a start. That should be an international quote, or perhaps that is obvious. You now understand what networking is and how it is beneficial. You have seen how complex networking can appear to be. Connecting with hundreds of people is a tricky thing. Or less so for social butterflies. But there are a lot of steps to this. First off, you need to begin networking. And you already have one as long as you are not isolated from humanity.

Everyone you know is part of your network. You can separate this list into friends, family, and business associates. But whether or not someone is of your related organization, they are all part of your network. Your friends and family may also have their fair share of business life! If not, they may know some tips or someone who does. Now that you understand networking better, what you need to do now is develop your network.

Those People Seem Intimidating, I’m Scared

If you are an introvert, networking may seem horrific. You might get sweaty palms and high blood pressure from just the idea. Maybe it is that intense, or maybe that is only in movies. Perhaps you are not a people person and think, “I have to talk to people? Count me out!” But have no fear! With some time, your concerns can become something you look back and laugh at.

Start small talk with the ones you know and often see. With your manager, friends, or even your mom! Talking over freshly baked chocolate chip cookies will make you feel better. As long as you are not allergic to chocolate… While you continuously practice conversing, things will become easier as time passes. Sooner or later, you will be ready to progress. And that is when you will begin expanding your network.

HOW On Earth Do I Get Connections?

Get to know as many people as you can. This not only helps in the social department but also improves your chances of networking. You have a connection if you go to the mall and exchange contact information with someone. If someone accepts your LinkedIn connection request, you have a connection. In countless different ways, you can get connections. And through those, you can gain even more!

To connect with as many people as possible, you must have an open mind. This means not overlooking others. Take that guy in sweatpants you always see at the comic store, for example. That man could very well be a senior manager in a global organization. And sure, others at your company or events look classy and intimidating. But outside the office, many enjoy superheroes and video games like you.

WHERE On Earth Do I Get Connections?

Connections can be found anywhere. And when I say anywhere, I mean anywhere. Yes, even a dark alleyway. Perhaps the killer of Bruce Wayne’s parents is a changed man who wants to work in a business. Or maybe not…

But whether it is online or in-person, you can connect anywhere. Keep in mind every place you travel to. Think about the supermarket, the library, or the post office. Know that you can find a connection there if it is a place.

Inside or outside your industry, there are people you have access to. However, some places will be more effective for networking than others. Yeah, that alleyway I talked about earlier? Getting a connection there is possible, but it is not very likely, therefore not an effective place. The best places are LinkedIn, events, and your workplace.

Networking WITHIN Your Company?!

The term networking internally also refers to networking within your company. Inside your company is your team you know and can identify. These include your leaders, manager, and any of your colleagues. Since you have the same job, you can easily converse with your team! These can be related projects, interests, and ideas.

Conversations with one colleague you know within your industry will improve your networking ability. Using this ability supports making relationships inside your network. Putting in the effort to create a personal relationship is key.

Across The Organization: An Adventure To Be Successful

Those inside your company are good options for creating personal relationships. Connecting with just your colleagues can leave you wanting something different. But outside your company’s members, you can get more people into your network. Time to swim from a pond into an ocean!

Even if the people you meet don’t have access to help you join companies, they can share ideas, events, or even an article for your related career. Everyone has their network, and everyone you are connected with can help expand yours. But did you know that there are specific events meant for networking?

There Are Events For Networking?

There are different events held across the globe where people expand their networks. When attending these, you have to keep in mind your main objective. Your super purpose throughout this journey is to get your desired career. You need to walk out of these with networking progress to feel successful. When you’re in these events, challenge yourself to meet a certain number of people. Meet potential clients, partnerships, and relationships.

Here’s an example of what to say. “Hi, I’m Andrea! I currently work as a Comedy Content Writer at Super Purposes. Here, we help people find a meaningful career in a short amount of time.” The other person will likely ask how I do that, and a meaningful conversation begins. If you exchange business cards with someone, reach out to them immediately after the event. Most people never follow up. You wouldn’t want to be known as that guy who never followed up, do you?

Beware of Your Competitors

One of the biggest mistakes people make is connecting with those of the same career. You would think you’re supposed to do this, right? Not always. Let’s say you’re an actor, and you connect with another actor. That actor could be your competition. All of a sudden, putting it like that changes everything, doesn’t it? In this case, going to an event with actors is one of the least effective things to do.

It would be best if you got in touch with those from other branches as an actor: makeup artists, screenwriters, or producers. Make as many connections with different specialties as possible—even that Janitor from the set. Little do you know that Janitor is in touch with the most famous directors. He very well could have mopped a set of Christopher Nolan. Stay clear of your competitors and keep a diverse network.

What Do I DO With My Connections?

Let’s say you’ve grown your network to a small number of 500. Some of you may be thinking, “That’s small?!” As your network continues to expand, you will see how small of an amount that is. The next step is creating as many relationships as you can. And if you want to build these, you need to make that bond.

As you schedule meetings with them, it’s time to get to business. Discuss your jobs and passions. Figure out any way you can help them out. Afterward, they will likely want to help you out in some way. In the future, you can significantly benefit from your network and assistance. Each connection helps another out, building each other up.

Your Path Begins Now

Networking has allowed me to improve my skills and become part of teams. I guarantee you will do the same and walk down your path to success. This is where you begin thriving with all this outstanding information—no need to thank me. I am a mind reader, after all.

Want more powerful career advice? Take a look at the rest of our blogs!

Have a Super Day!

An image of a dark-haired woman leaning back on a door
Andrea Sours

I've always been someone with a vivid imagination. As creative ideas constantly flowed through my head, one day, I decided to do something about it. So then I got onto my computer and procrastinated for two years. I'm kidding! Partially... But with writing, I get to fulfill my love and passion for telling contrasting stories. Ever since then, I strove toward my dream of becoming a professional screenwriter.