You already know how important networking is in finding, nurturing, and maintaining careers. However, you’ve perhaps never put it into practice, despite knowing that it could become valuable someday.
Those of you still trying to build a career need networking more than ever. Particularly if you didn’t graduate at the top of your class at the Ivy League school your parents paid for, you’ll need to make connections to move up the ladder.
Networking works on a personal and professional level thanks to various social media tools. Take a look at these five steps to make this work while finding ways to keep your network engaged and alive.
Step 1: Find Like-Minded People on Social Media
It’s not challenging to find people with the same career interests on places like Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
On Twitter, simply do a keyword or hashtag search to find people discussing career topics you’re interested in discussing. You can do the same on Facebook, including using their friend recommendations feature to connect with people you wouldn’t otherwise know.
LinkedIn is one of the best for professional contacts as well, including their LinkedIn Groups. If you already own a business, this is a great way to network with people from your industry.
Step 2: Use Slack for Career Networking
Fortune did a piece about Slack last year and noted how many women use the messaging service to link up with fellow career-minded individuals. It not only allows networking within workplaces, it also lets you connect with people anywhere in the world without having to meet face to face.
You can create groups easily, or join existing ones with an invite. In the latter case, you’ll be asked to answer a few questions first as you would joining any other live group. You can find Slack groups to join just by searching a search engine for something like, “Slack groups for designers” or “Slack groups for writers” or whatever describes the community you want to join.
Step 3: Maintain Your Group
The problem with a lot of social networking is it doesn’t usually sustain after the initial excitement wears off. Life can become busy and you may forget to join in on discussions. Prioritize your network, setting aside a small amount of time each week devoted to engaging with your group members. Just saying hello, asking what’s up and how you can help is all it takes.
Always make an effort to show up to your groups. Never take a networking group for granted, because they could help connect you to important people.
Step 4: Find a Shared Goal
One way to sustain your group is to link up with those who share more than just a career dream. Think about your specific goals and work toward achieving something together with someone else who shares one of those goals.
Encourage the group as a whole to set goals out loud and report back on progress. People who tell someone else their goal are more likely to achieve that goal. A group that holds its members accountable for their goals and acts as a support team for achieving those goals has a great chance of becoming an invaluable part of every member’s life.
Share your goals together and then find a way to track your progress over time, including through your entire career.
Step 5: Find a Tool That Helps Keep Your Social Group Together
It’s worth seeking out digital tools that help you maintain interest in your group and track goals down your career path.
Slack, Twitter groups, Facebook groups, WhatsApp, Google Docs, Calendly, Mighty Networks, etc. all provide great tools for helping groups stay in touch, plan activities, share news, communicate spontaneously, and spread the word to attract more members. The easier it is to stay in touch and organize activities, the better chances your group has of staying engaged and standing the test of time.
Main image: #WOCInTech Chat