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Networking to Get Ahead

Knowing how to network effectively is essential to growing both personally and professionally. This lesson reviews how to create a positive, useful network and the work required to maintain it.


[TEXT: Learning Objectives

1. How to identify important networking skills.
2. How to develop networks.
3. How to maintain your network.]

[TEXT: Sadhana Hall, Deputy Director, Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College]

Sadhana Hall: I’m Sadhana Hall, and this is “Networking to Get Ahead.”

In this lesson we will learn how to identify important networking skills, how to develop networks
and how to maintain your network.

It’s important to network thoughtfully and effectively. To be the best at what you do, you need to surround yourself with people who inspire you, who motivate you, and who challenge you.

People who ask you difficult questions and provide honest feedback. Networking is the practice of intentionally seeking out these people. Your personal network is your resource — it’s just as tangible and necessary as your technical skills.

Let’s go over some of the important, necessary networking skills. First, just be open to meeting new people, listening to new ideas, and engaging with people outside of your specific business or industry. Be authentic in how you present yourself and your business. Networking requires a genuine interest in others. They deserve your respect and your attention. Be a good listener for common goals and interests and establish useful relationships. Be punctual and respect how much time your contacts are able to give you. Be proactive and conduct research on the individual, the employer or the industry with whom you would like to connect.

Here are some ways to develop your network:

Reach out to friends, family members and alumni — they are a rich pool of people with connections.

Seek to connect with people informally at conferences and meetings or at formal networking events. Begin your conversation with what you know about the person or the organization, talk about your common interests, and build your conversation from there.

Let them know how you possibly can help them.

Make connections through social media such as LinkedIn. LinkedIn can connect you to others with similar interests, it can help you establish wider networks, and is a rich resource of information for professional development.

When you communicate with people through face-to-face interviews, over the phone or through Skype or some other system, be prepared with questions. Use the Internet, if you have access.

Choose and adapt questions that will be personally and culturally relevant to you, that’ll help you If a chance meeting offers you an opportunity, ask for contact information and a business card.

Reciprocate — be a resource for those in your network.

Your network is built over time because all connections you make become part of your personal and professional network. Think about it as something that is alive and that requires time and your attention to stay healthy and relevant.

Here are some ideas on how to maintain your network:

Reach out to your contacts when something reminds you of them. Let them know you are thinking about their needs and not just what they can do for you. This will help you build a strong foundation for a continued relationship.

Send along occasional updates or interesting relevant information about yourself.

Reach out to your contact in advance of coordinated job searches. Send your resume and the job description to the position that you are applying. Keep your contact informed about the outcome and write them a thank-you note if they in any way help.

Remember what you talked about with your contacts when you met them. A good way to remember is to write quick notes on their business card.

Be sure to follow up with a new contact within 24 to 48 hours. If your contact connects you to a valuable resource, please let that person know what happened as a result of this connection. Be sure to thank both of them.

Networking can be a powerful tool.

After you’ve completed all the units in this course at YLAI.state.gov, you can test your knowledge and earn a certificate.

[TEXT: Test Your Knowledge
Produced by the U.S. Department of State]

Discussion Guide [PDF, 129.33 KB]