Even if you’re not job seeking, networking can open up great opportunities in your career. Whether it’s finding like-minded people and starting a professional relationship, learning from industry leaders, or finding someone who may help you find a job, there are plenty of networking opportunities that you may be missing out on.
Here are a few networking opportunities you may not have considered:
Your colleagues and coworkers
This one may seem like common sense, but a lot of professionals tend to get so wrapped up in their work that they forget to nurture relationships with their coworkers. These are people who are on a growing career path, like you, and years down the line, it can be extremely useful to have friends and connections from old jobs. It can help you gain a warm sales lead, a sounding board for ideas, or even an intro to a hiring manager.
Take advantage of your network, both direct and indirect. Learn what you can about people, have meaningful conversations about the future, and always be present and available when they need your help or advice. Leave a lasting impression that they will remember.
Conferences, conventions, and meetups
Some of the best learning and networking opportunities can be at conferences or conventions related to your field of work. Do a bit of Google searching and find some conferences or conventions in your area. Meetup.com is also an amazing resource for finding gatherings of people in your industry.
Gatherings like these are designed with both education and networking as their purpose. They bring like-minded people together for an event designed to present new ideas and connect professionals and experts. You’ll likely have a ton in common with the people there, which should help you shake some of the nerves of networking.
Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora… the list goes on. These are places where executives, thought leaders, and experts comment on and post their thoughts, experiences, and analysis of industry news. Get in on the conversation with these professionals!
Find people in your line of work who are prominent Tweeters, check out articles they’ve written and posted to LinkedIn or other blogs, find them answering questions on Quora, and strike up a conversation. Participate in ongoing chats about new developments in your field and add quality insights based on your experience. Be persistent and contribute value to the conversation -- you’ll be recognized. And if you do it right, you may even end up being an authority on the topics you contribute to.
Industry-specific online forums
Opportunities for networking with people in your industry are a dime a dozen online. Reddit has a sub-category for almost anything you can think of. Trade-specific boards like GrowthHackers (for marketers), Designer News (for designers), ClosingCall.co (for sales professionals) are driving huge amounts of discussion among thought leaders. There are thousands of online forums where you can find and connect with people in your field.
Typically, people in these communities will be open to introducing themselves by name, and you’ll even find C-level leaders and directors that you can speak with.
Use these opportunities to grow your network, meet and develop lasting relationships with professionals in your field, and grow a personal brand through your engagement in the community. You’ll thank yourself later when you need a new job or if you want to use your network to benefit your business.