How to Network Professionally

How to Build and Maintain a Professional Network

Networking is about meeting other professionals who share common interests with you. Sometimes networking starts off by just having a simple conversation. To network with others first, you might want to consider attending different events, meetups, online social spaces like Linked in or joining clubs or volunteer groups where you can learn from others with the job experience you seek.

For example, if your goal is to be a teacher, networking with many different teachers should be one of your goals. You might then learn whether you would prefer public, private school or university settings, cultures of different schools, age group or subject area preferences, how and where to get the college degree, certification file with the state, or even about scholarships or loans they used that could support you, too. You may even be inspired to start your own daycare or even realize you would prefer another role in a school like school psychologist or principal. Networking can show you many paths you may not have considered to reach your goals.

Once you understand your goals you will want to find a great mentor that can help you achieve the steps to accomplishing this goal. Mentors serve as great advocates in your choice of goals. They listen and understand your specific needs and encourage you to try new things. 

Networking through Volunteer Job

Networking can also be done in the form of volunteering. Volunteering helps students meet many other great professionals who often share similar values but sometimes may not share the same career goal as you. You may though have an excellent hands-on opportunity to practice the skills of your career goal and get practical knowledge to know if it truly is the right fit. Volunteering may take additional steps to accomplish these goals, but it also may expose you to more ideas. Sharing strengths, effort, willingness to learn and enthusiasm in the group are great substitutes for areas you are still learning and will endear other volunteer group members to assist you. Working with others sharing skills is a form of networking.

Overall, to network you must be willing to develop long-lasting relationships, gain different perspectives, strengthening your connection by helping others with their weaknesses and being open to receiving advice and help to gain more knowledge. Finally, once these skills are developed, networking will become a natural part of your everyday life.