Networking is about relationship building. The secret to establishing quality relationships is being intentional. This means coming prepared for each professional event and valuing each connection you make.
Want to begin growing your professional network? Follow our five tips below.
1. Stay Current on Industry Trends
When you approach someone at a networking event or conference, be sure to have something in your mind that’s industry relevant to start a conversation. Make it a habit to track trends in your industry, read newspapers and trade journals, and scour websites and blogs.
2. Do Your Research
Before attending a networking event, do your research and know who will be there. Do a Google search on people you think you may want to meet and learn what is important to them or their current projects. Look up social media pages like LinkedIn or Facebook, and see if they have a personal or business website.
3. Set a Goal for the Event
You should set a goal for each event you attend because you don’t want to spend most of your time talking to people you already know. For example, a healthcare management professional may set a goal to attend a networking event at the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management and meet five managers and directors in healthcare contracting to expand their network. Having a specific goal will keep them from wasting their time at the event.
4. Perfect your Pitch
Throughout the event, you’ll introduce yourself to many different people using your elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a 30-60 second recap of who you are and what you do. You should include important information, but you don’t need to include your entire work history and career objectives. Watch The Elevator Pitch to see how to craft your introduction.
5. Follow-up with the People You’ve Met
After any event, be sure to send an email to those you’ve met recapping one or two points from your conversation that were meaningful to you. If you promised to send information, you should do so within a few days. Try to schedule a date and time to meet again, because this shows you’re interested and serious about staying connected.
If you need additional help perfecting your networking skills, keep in mind UMGC Career Services is available to help you plan and achieve career success. Set up an appointment with a UMGC Career Advising Specialist.
Rhoda Smackum is a career advising specialist for Career Services and Alumni Relations at University of Maryland Global Campus. She has approximately 28,000 hours of work experience in the field of career development. Ms. Smackum enjoys working collaboratively, in partnership with students and alumni to identify career issues, match values with career choices and obtain meaningful work. She holds a Master of Arts degree from Bowie State University and a Bachelor of General Studies degree from the University of Maryland College Park. She is a Certified Master of Career Services (CMCS) and an Associate Certified Career Coach.