How to Build Your Professional Network

Building a network of trusted professionals within and outside of your organization is an investment worth making. Use professional networking events as an opportunity to present yourself, make new connections and possibly discover a new job. Below are tips to assist you in building relationships that will last a lifetime.

Meet Other Professionals Through People You Already Know

Maximize on the connections you already have established.  Meeting a friend of a friend sets an instant trust and comfort that you will not have with a total stranger. Attend professional networking events with your friends and colleagues.

Use Your Social Media Accounts to Your Advantage

Social media is an effective way to get to know important contacts better and without the pressure of a face-to-face meeting that you may not be prepared for. The best social platform is LinkedIn. Be sure to continuously update your LinkedIn account, which is essentially your digital resume. Request to connect with professionals that inspire you and are like-minded. Try to comment on other’s posts to start a dialogue. Post interesting articles, which offers your followers value in return. When you have the opportunity to meet them in person, it will be easier to reference previous communications with them. If you see someone has a work anniversary, has been promoted or moved to another organization, use it a reason to reach out and congratulate them.

Business Cards, Elevator Speech & Attitude

Be prepared and in the right mindset when attending events. Come prepared with your business cards in hand and a fun way to introduce yourself. A simple handshake and greeting can go far, but when the conversation steers towards your professional background, make sure you have a few quick points you would like the person to remember you by. Be high energy and positive, regardless if you’re naturally more reserved or if you’re not at the best point in your life professionally.

Attend Networking Events

Try to attend networking events monthly or bi-monthly. In May 2019, the Granicus Annual National Summit is a great event to get started. GovLoop events webpage is another great resource. If that’s not enough, check out this GovLoop list of Best Government Conferences of 2019.

The Follow-through: Maintaining Connections

If you’ve made a connection with someone at an event and had a memorable conversation, it should be easy to continue where you left off or tie in what you remember of the person into your communications. Check in from time to time see what the person is up to. Successfully networking means to be in regular communication with your contacts to establish credibility and share valuable information and knowledge. Everyone has something to learn and gain. As networking is an ongoing process, stay committed to the persistence, attention, organization, and good necessary to be fully committed to creating your network. Happy networking!

Laura-Céline Mueller is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. She is an experienced public relations professional, specializing in content development and digital communications. As Public Affairs Specialist for the District of Columbia Government, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs she is a strategic communications adviser assisting in the management of communication, branding, events, marketing, and public relations operations of the agency. 

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Avatar photo Blake Martin

This is awesome advice. I’ve seen several colleagues/friends lose steam when it comes to maintaining these connections. I think of relationships all in the same framework; its often appropriate to check in and see how things are going, whether its an old coworker or an old friend. This is crucial to staying connected in a productive/fulfilling way.