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How do I network successfully? 6 key tips

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Successful networking takes time and intention. Try these expert tips to make connecting a little easier.

“I am new to my company and want to know how to grow my professional network. What kind of networking opportunities or groups should I be looking for so I can connect with other colleagues?” Here, Natalie Keast, Human Resources Senior Director, shares her wisdom on this popular question for “Dear HR.”

Building your network is essential for growing in your career. It can help you accomplish tasks, innovate, find future opportunities and become a better leader, among other benefits.

But making solid connections is sometimes easier said than done. And while starting in a new company or role can be exciting, it can also be daunting. It’s normal to feel hesitant to reach out to others in your new role.

When you’re ready to meet more of the incredible people in your organization, these tips can help.

1. Picture positive outcomes

Having a positive mindset and feeling confident when you approach others will make a big difference when it comes to networking. To boost your confidence, take time to reflect on any limiting beliefs you might hold about yourself. Acknowledge them — but then try to find ways to let them go. (This may not happen overnight, and that’s OK!)

Remember that you have value, and we all have opportunities to learn. Networking can help unlock some of these learning opportunities, both for you and for the people you connect with.

In general, you’ll likely find that people are more willing to connect than you might think!

2. Hear — and be heard

We aim to be seen and heard, as well as to see and hear others. It can help to be curious and open to learning. Asking thoughtful questions when meeting someone new will help your curiosity shine through.

To be heard, think through what you have to say and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is my superpower? What value do I have?
  • What do I want people to know about me?
  • What am I trying to achieve through my network?

3. Make time for connecting

Networking successfully often requires being intentional and setting aside time for it. Those emails and tasks marked “urgent” or “important” may take priority during most of your day, so you’ll need to find ways to carve out time to network.

For example, setting up a weekly lunch with a colleague or blocking out a couple hours on your calendar each month to send messages to people are two ways to make time for new connections.

Start small, make a regular habit of it, find joy in the process, and reward yourself for any steps you take.

Natalie Keast

Human Resources Senior Director, PepsiCo

4. Networking can be intentional, but also opportunistic

Seeking out people you’d like to connect with is great, but so are chance connections that happen in person. Working on-site gives you the chance to interact with a range of people you may not otherwise meet.

Look at chance encounters at the coffee machine, in the corridors or at work events as opportunities to form connections.

5. Leverage your existing network and ERGs

It never hurts to ask your team or contacts to introduce you to other colleagues. If you’re new to your company, you’ve likely already made a few connections during your onboarding. See if those connections can help you create even more.

Many companies also have employee resource groups (ERGs) — and these groups can be great for networking and finding community. Some companies even have ERGs designed specifically for networking. Ask your HR rep to see what ERGs may be available. And consider pitching a new ERG at your company if you have an idea for one.

6. Nurture those connections

Simply introducing yourself to someone is a great start — but it will take more than one conversation to form a meaningful connection. When you meet someone you’d like to keep in your network, think about ways you can continue to get to know them and stay in touch over time.

For example, I set aside a little time each month to be proactive and plan out how to develop my network or meet new people in the weeks ahead.

Magic happens when we’re curious and surround ourselves with different, remarkable people. This can unlock fun and learning and ultimately make us better.

Natalie Keast

Human Resources Senior Director, PepsiCo

Remember, effective networks don’t happen overnight. They take time to build, nurture and grow — but the effort can be very rewarding.

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