Many jobs are conveyed through recommendations and contacts. A strong network can therefore be at least as important for the career as study and skills. Marie Thorslund, who runs the women’s network 4good, tips on how to build one.
Four tips on how to network
1. In everyday life
Your network is everywhere – at children’s preschool, training and with your friends. Take the opportunity to talk to strangers. Most are good contacts, but in different ways. It may feel uncomfortable, but is a social skill that many can practice. Dare, you can’t get more than one no.
2. About interests
Find a context where you feel comfortable and feel safe talking. Join associations that are dedicated to things you think are fun, and social media groups that discuss things you care about. But don’t be silent, show that you are there.
3. Business networks
Join an official business network. The advantage is that everyone is there with the same ambition – to do business and make contacts. Here you can have a plan and a goal picture. Maybe you want to increase your sales, find jobs, strengthen your brand, or develop by meeting new people?
4. In the workplace
Go and have lunch with a new person at work every day. Especially from other departments you wouldn’t talk to otherwise. Then you learn the organization and its challenges, which is good for the career internally. Also, you don’t know where the people you get to know end up for jobs next.
Four rules for good networking
1. Be generous
Professional networking is about sparking something that can help someone else in the professional role, and showing off your skills. If you’re lucky, you get help back, but that’s not the point. You will get back in one way or another, for example by having others speak well of you.
An easy way to help others, and to strengthen the image of you as a person with a strong network, is to connect people. Sometimes it is quite obvious that two people should meet, sometimes you may just feel that they have something in common. Be open with that, and let them solve the rest.
3. See others
Everyone wants to be seen. Ask and listen more than you talk. Also show that you think others are good, encourage and cheer. Be a person in whose company others want to be. Also, do not limit yourself to certain groups and contexts. Get to know people with different backgrounds and perspectives, then you will face new challenges and opportunities.
4. Dare to ask for help
Don’t be too proud to ask for help. Others usually have no idea what you need, and the most unexpected people can sit on valuable contacts. Also ask your friends, many are so focused on business contacts that they forget to look closer. Dare to tell you what you want and show what you are passionate about, then you will also become more interesting to others.