I sat in my office and looked up at my client Claire, as she looked incredibly overwhelmed.
“Where do I begin?” she asked.
As someone who’s coached hundreds of job seekers in finding their purpose and finding more job offers, I can promise you you’re not alone if the same question has popped into your mind.
So how do quick start a career that you love? Maybe you have a vision, a passion, an idea of where you want to go, but you’re not quite certain how to get there.
No worries — I’m here, and we’re going to get this handled.
You need to make connections. But there’s a big difference between aimless networking and intentional networking… Needless to say, it’s key you make the right connections for the career path you’re pursuing.
So how do you make a connection, and then maintain it?
Here are five steps you can take to meet the right connections, and foster beneficial work relationships to get your career started!
- Figure out what value you have for others.
It might not always feel like it, but everyone has value to give to everyone else. If you know what value you present to others, you’ll be able to connect more easily and confidently. This could be something as small as finding something in common (for example, maybe you and the person you’re connecting with went to the same college). It could also mean offering a favor such as a link to an article, sharing information, giving them a referral.
- Make a list.
In order to connect, you should make a list of those you want to or should reach out to. And not just any list — an extensive list! Write down everyone who could possibly be a connection, even if they seem out of reach. The more people you have on the list, the less daunting it will actually be. Think about it this way: if you only have five people, you feel pressure to reach out to all of them. The longer your list, the less pressure you’ll feel, and the easier it’ll be to reach out. And maybe you will end up reaching out to those out-of-reach people. You never know! But having a list will at least give you somewhere to start.
- Go to networking events.
Did you know 85% of people find jobs through networking? Clearly, you want to take advantage of this… And what better place to network than events? Maybe you have a friend or coworker that needs a plus one to a conference or talk. Maybe you took to Google and found networking events near you. Whatever the case, put yourself out there and connect with as many people as you can. Bring business cards, talking points, and your best smile.
- Reach out on LinkedIn.
When it comes to networking, social media is your friend. LinkedIn is an especially great tool for reaching out to connections you’ve met at networking events or through your peers. Shoot them a quick message, making sure you give detail as to why you’re reaching out and how you know them. After all, keeping in touch is key to cultivating and maintaining relationships.
- Know your goals, so you know the right people to help you reach them.
In order to know who to ask for help, or what kind of help to even ask for, you need to know what you want. This is where goal setting comes in handy. Take some time to write down your top three goals. Studies show the act of writing down your goals makes you 1.4 times more likely to succeed! Try making SMART goals — these are goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound. This will help you make goals that matter to you, and that you can share easily with others.
If you’re anything like I was, networking makes you nervous. I get it — I’ve been there. But remember, networking is giving. Because the bigger the network you build, the more connections you can offer others to thrive in their career. In fact, building a network is one of the most generous ways to show up in your career.
Just ask my client, Claire — she landed a job offer at Google that Monday.
Ashley Stahl coaches job seekers to find their purpose and land more job offers. She also runs CAKE Publishing, a ghostwriting house that helps influencers create content.