There are many ways to expand your professional network. These ways range anywhere from chatting with someone while waiting in line, to attending a formal networking event. As we all know, a positive first impression is key to making a strong, lasting impression with someone. Making this impression can be easy for some to do and quite a challenge for others. Luckily, there are a few different mediums to go about making this professional first impression.
For the extravert, a job fair or a networking event will be a great place for you to be in your most comfortable setting. You have the opportunity to talk to many people and show that you are outgoing and charismatic, which is easy for you. This setting will provide you with many different business professionals that are looking to connect with talented students. When at a networking event, especially, you will get a chance to also connect with your peers. This piece of networking is key, in my opinion. Though you want to impress as many prospective employers as possible, you also want to get to know your peers. Your peers will be who you work with all your life, so getting to know them will not only build lasting relationships, but will also help you meet some of their network.
In contrast to the extravert is the introvert. The introvert may feel uncomfortable at a job fair or networking event, most likely. Though both an extravert and an introvert should use this, LinkedIn is a great alternative to meeting someone and connecting, but is also a great way to follow-up with someone you have met at a job fair or networking event. If you have a LinkedIn account, you are well aware of all the search features there are. You are able to search specific people, industries, or even search keywords of what you are interested in. These search features are important to finding the people that you want to connect with, even if you don’t know them to start with.
Of course, you may feel uncomfortable connecting with someone that you have never met, but by sending the proper message when connecting, you may be able to expand your network without knowing the person. When connecting with someone on LinkedIn you have the following options to choose from:
Even if you do not know the person, that is okay. I would recommend that you put them as a “Friend” and write a quick, personalized message explaining whom you are and why you want to connect with them. I have done this many times and have been met with positive responses. By doing this, you are not only expanding your network to business professionals, but you are taking control of who could be future contacts for job inquiries or informational interviews. A great approach is to search for someone in the field or industry you are hoping to work in one day. What I search for is someone’s job that I want, and then I send him or her a message to connect.
This approach through LinkedIn allows an introvert or an extravert to expand their network without having to worry about any awkward face-to-face interactions, while still being able to professionally connect with the person. What strategies do you use to build your network?
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