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Networking for Career Success: How to Make Professional Contacts

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Networking is the process of building connections in a business setting, and is a very useful practice for professional and personal relationships. Learn more about how to network successfully, as well as how to navigate these connections in-person and online. Updated: 10/05/2021


Mikey is graduating college soon, and he's looking for a job. But things are competitive, and there just aren't many job postings out there. What can he do?

Bertha is a little different from Mikey. She graduated a few years ago and has been working at a job ever since. But she wants to move forward in her career, and she needs some guidance. She really wants a mentor, or an advisor, who can give her advice on how to move ahead.

For both Bertha and Mikey, making contacts in business can play a crucial role in getting them what they want and need. Interacting with people to build business relationships is called networking, and it is an integral part of most people's career.

Why should Mikey and Bertha network? There are many benefits to networking. Mikey and Bertha represent two of the main ones: job opportunities and mentors. Networking can turn up both of these things for people. Mikey, for example, might find that someone he establishes a relationship with knows of a job in their company that they can recommend him for. In fact, many jobs are never posted. Instead, they are filled by people that someone in the organization knows.

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  • 0:01 Networking
  • 1:19 Tips for Networking
  • 3:44 In Person vs. Online
  • 5:00 Lesson Summary
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Tips for Networking

So, Mikey could find a job through networking, and Bertha could find a mentor through her network of professional contacts. But how, exactly, should they network? There are many ways to network, but there are a few tips that can help both Mikey and Bertha and other people like them to be successful at networking.

1. Bond over more than business

It's important to have a business-oriented relationship but long-lasting relationships involve more than business. Whether it's a shared love for coffee or a favorite band, having something in common outside of business can help cement a networked relationship.

Bertha, for example, is looking for a mentor. When she talks to people in her network, she finds several people who might make a good mentor businesswise but will she get along with them? Will they want to work together over time? Bonding over something other than just business can help Bertha form a strong relationship that will last over time.

2. Don't ask for something right away

When you first meet someone and add them to your network, it's bad form to ask for a favor immediately. For example, if Mikey meets someone at a conference, he shouldn't immediately ask for the new friend to get him a job at the friend's company. It's okay for Mikey to mention that he's looking for a job but the focus at the beginning should be on building the relationship. After a while, it's okay to ask for favors.

3. Stay in touch

It's very easy to lose touch with people. Mikey and Bertha are both very busy people, and staying in touch with their networks can be difficult. But checking in with contacts regularly, like sending an email on their birthday, sharing an article that might interest them or catching up over coffee, can keep their network strong.

4. Give back when you can

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