How to network like a pro

By Hillary Morgan | Digital Media Intern

A skill that’s important in any line of work is the ability to network. Bianca Male ofBusiness Insider puts it simply: “Knowing the right people can get you places that you might not reach otherwise.” Forging these deep connections can help you secure a job, move up in your industry, and find more opportunities to expand your business. Seems pretty important, doesn’t it? There’s actually a lot more to networking than many people think.


To network, first you need to show up. How can anyone connect with you if you don’t put yourself out there? Dr. Ivan Misner of Business Network International advises, “Networking is a contact sport! You have to get out and connect with people.” This means going to industry mixers; joining professional associations, groups and clubs related to your field; and being active on social media sites.


Many view networking as simply handing out business cards to anyone and everyone you meet and hoping for the best. Author Andrew Sobel disagrees with this approach. In an article for, he recommends creating quality contacts rather than focusing on the quantity of contacts you have. He says, “There is a penchant to meet lots and lots of people. It’s fueled a bit by social media, where we’re told we need large numbers of Twitter follower, followers of our blogs, LinkedIn connections and Facebook friends,” but this superficial level of connection is rarely helpful for most people. It’s more important to forge solid relationships with a smaller number of contacts that you actually know and trust.


Bianca Male of Business Insider makes it a point to say, “Your network will be useless if you don’t maintain it.” Whether you call them, send an email or note, or simply share their links on your social media, you will be taking steps to maintain a relationship with your connection. Sobel shares an anecdote about a peer from college who contacted him with the hope of gaining an investor for his new business. The problem was, “I hadn’t heard from him in 30 years.” He continued, “He did not maintain a relationship with me, and he didn’t evoke my curiosity.”


Anyone you meet has the potential to help you. In an Forbes article, Andrew Vest says, “Someone you meet may ‘just’ be a clerk, but they may have valuable connections or knowledge you’d never learn about if you’d dismissed them.” This also includes people outside of your industry. These people may have information that you would not have otherwise been privy to.


In today’s age of Twitter and Instagram, it’s important to connect online as well as in person. Adding someone on LinkedIn can help you meet potential connections, or maintain your current network.


CareerCast recommends never approaching a contact to ask for a job. It’s much more useful to ask for information or leads, because asking someone for a job can make them uncomfortable which may destroy your connection.


Sobel says, “The greatest networkers I know genuinely like to help others.” It’s possibly more important to give to your connections than to ask them for help. Sharing information and connections with your connections builds a sense of trust. Make sure your contact knows you are there if they need anything.

If you follow all of these tips, you’ll be on the road to successful networking. Above all else, remember to make true connections and maintain those connections. According to Misner, “Networking is more about farming than it is about hunting. It’s not just about who you know – it’s about how well you know them.”