Networking is one of the most valuable things you can do in life. The people you know are often directly tied to the opportunities you get. As a professional, you know you need to get out there and meet people, but how do you build a professional network when you don’t know anyone?
If you’re in a position where you don’t know many or any people, it can be very tough to build and grow your network. Yet meeting new people in person is something that you must do if you want to find a job. Whether you’re new to town, switching industries, or naturally shy, it can be hard to make connections, but it’s something that must be done.
Below you’ll find five simple ways to build a professional network when you don’t know anyone:
- Make A List – Sit down and make a list of all the people you know – friends, family, co-workers, peers, and anyone else. Reach out to these people and touch base with them. Show a genuine interest and strive to rekindle any and all relationships.
- Attend Networking & Professional Events – To tap into your specific niche and industry attend networking events, industry meetings, and professional events in your area. When you make connections in your industry it can open up doors you never knew existed.
- Use Social Media (Especially LinkedIn) – If you’re not on social media, you’re missing out. It’s easy to connect with a wide range of people via social channels. As a professional, be sure to utilize LinkedIn to connect with other professionals in your area or your niche.
- Talk To More People – Strike up conversations with the people you meet. You never know who you might meet and where you might meet them. If you need help striking up a conversation, learn a few ice breakers that will help you start a conversation with anyone.
- Get Involved – Make time to do new things. When people ask you to do things, say “yes.” Spend time volunteering, Go to community functions. Be an active part of your office, your community, and your world.
Building your network isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s a long-term process that requires you to push your comfort zone, shake more hands, and get to know people. While it may be a daunting task, it’s also quite fun. The more connections you have in life, the better.
When you’re proactive and genuine in your approach, your network can take you far. From tapping into the hidden job market to getting killer references to making more friends, your network can really help you create a successful professional and personal life. Your network will do you favors, but always be sure to return those favors too.
Get out there and meet people. Build relationships and get to know the people that you interact with.