This post is in partnership with Forté Foundation. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and experiences are always my own.
They say that “your network = your net worth.” And it’s true. The people you meet in life are a major factor in the opportunities you’ll be awarded. As an introvert, that’s hella scary to think about. I’m more of the type to stay at home with my dog, watching Netflix, pretending the only world is the one inside the boob tube. However, after leaving the 9-5 grind, I couldn’t wait for networking opportunities to fall into my lap! I had to #NetworkLikeABoss in order to stay my own boss.
Here are the 7 ways I’ve networked throughout my career + an awesome giveaway at the end to jumpstart your networking!
Back in my 9-5 grind, I went to every possible training my employer offered. Most were community-based so it gave me an opportunity to meet other professionals in the industry. At the time, I had no idea how some of these people would come full circle in my career! If you can attend trainings, show up with a positive attitude and be ready to learn and grow.
As I started to move into entrepreneurship, I began attending industry-related events like round table luncheons or bowling. After going to two or three, I started to see familiar faces and grew more comfortable. These people became my advocates, introducing me to others. I was just started my business when I went to an event and reconnected with a former co-worker I had lost touch with. She put me in touch with her current employer—and they became my first client! From there, I built my client base through my word-of-mouth warriors. The calls started coming in and my client base grew.
I attended these both in my previous industry and as a blogger. While it’s definitely overwhelming to attend a conference as an introvert, I’ve found them extremely helpful in fostering relationships, which is something I struggle with. Especially now that my business is primarily digital, it’s a fantastic way to bring on-line relationships offline and really solidify them. You see conferences have a “fun” element to them as everyone is usually traveling, going out to dinner, and looking to blow off a little steam after an information-packed day! This is where friendships start to happen.
4. Create an interview series
Honestly, this was probably the biggest gamechanger for me. When I launched TCM, I knew that my network would = my net worth in the blogging world. I knew I needed to meet others in the community and build relationships, but the digital world felt big and overwhelming.
I decided to shrink the pool by launching a vlog series called Inspiring Millennials, where I interviewed people who took a road less traveled in their careers. This really pushed me to put myself out there and dig deep in hour-long, one-on-one conversations. I’ve stayed in touch with most of my guests (some have even become close friends!), and they’ve been great about helping me bounce around a new idea or keeping me in mind for business opportunities.
If you’re not interested in starting a vlog or podcast, just challenge yourself to meet with one person every week (in person or for a digital coffee date) to learn about them and their career path and see how you can be of service to them down the road.
5. Respond to every message
In the early days as a digital entrepreneur, I definitely wasn’t the one sending a ton of messages (#introvertproblems!). Instead what I did was respond to every single message that came into any of my inboxes. Yes, that includes the annoying automated DMs on Twitter. In fact, I actually met people in person from those messages on Twitter! I showed up for the digital world and it showed right back up for me! Today I don’t have time to respond to every single message, but doing so in the early days taught me a lot about networking opportunities that can fall into your lap if you’re present.
6. Twitter chats
One of the fastest ways I started to meet people in the digital space was through twitter chats, where people show up ready for meaningful conversation and networking. What I love about twitter chats in particular is that you all clearly have a shared interest already and it’s easy to build upon relationships from there.
7. Dedicated communities
It’s essential to surround yourself with friends, peers, and mentors who are looking to lift one another up. The online space can feel really big and overwhelming. I recommend checking out sites like Forté Foundation, a nonprofit which provides networking tips and resources for women who want to succeed in business. They are always doing cool things like their current giveaway (full details below!), #NetworkLikeABoss where winners can snag all kinds of awesome goodies (think spa gift certificates, Starbucks gift cards, Michael Kors bag, and so much more!). Finding a community of like minded people looking to elevate one another is key.
You see, growing your network boils down to a few things: showing up, finding your tribe, and being of service to them. When you consistently show up and say “yes” to the opportunities happening in your life, it becomes easier to take a more active role in saying “this is my tribe” or “this isn’t for me.” Above all else, remember that your network will continue to have your back and support you, as long as you are showing up and supporting them. It’s all about service and adding value to enrich others’ lives which is why so many professional women are there to support you on your journey through communities like Forté Foundation. You never know how the people you meet today will come full circle in your career, and powerful bosses know that they didn’t get to where they are all on their own!
>>> GIVEAWAY <<<
Alright, so I’ve been talking about all the ways I’ve networked over the years, now it’s your turn! I’ve partnered with Forté Foundation to bring one winner some amazing prizes to jump start their career!
Starbucks $100 gift card- Coffee date? Yes, please! Take an industry professional to coffee and request an informational interview about their company.
Michael Kors bag- The way you present yourself says a lot about your confidence and who you will attract in your career! My first 9-5 job my Michael Kors purse was actually the ice breaker with my interviewer!
$400 gift card to Bliss Spa- Invite your boss squad to a spa day for some serious bonding. Not a Bliss Spa near you? We’ll allocate the funds towards a gift card to a spa in your area.
Amazon Echo Show provided by Cognizant- A new way to be together. With remote jobs on the rise, it’s time to get used to video calls! Use the Echo Show to make hands-free video calls to friends and family –– perfect for the modern multi-tasker. Thank you, Cognizant!
Pimco swag bag- Complete with an umbrella, fold up-reusable shopping bag, tumbler, stainless steel coffee mug, beach towel and a $20 Starbucks gift. This has ~everything~ you need to be productive on the go.
Waterproof speaker provided by Goldman Sachs- Nothing like a power playlist to get you pumped for networking, interviews, and everyday blasting from this awesome waterproof speaker.
An expense paid trip to one Forte College Leadership Conference of the winner's choice- Remember those conferences I mentioned as a key for networking? Yup, you won’t want to miss this! Forté’s hosts around six conferences a year for college students hosted by industry leaders.
GMAT Voucher ($250)– Is grad school in your future? Women who take the GMAT in college often score higher than any other time in their lives. Start a study group asap!
Enter here for your chance to win, and happy networking!