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The complete guide to networking

When I suggest that people should start networking when they are looking for a job the response I often get is "but it's awkward." Well, networking is like making babies, if it's awkward, you are doing it wrong!

True networking is cultivating mutually beneficial relationships. Its not just "friending" people so you can ask them to put in a good word for you when you are looking for a job. It's creating long term connections so you can help each other. Nobody succeeds alone. Not you, not them.

There are three parts to networking:
  1. Contact,
  2. Connect,
  3. Contribute.


The first thing to know is you should network before you need it. Your goal should simply be to create a mutually beneficial relationship. If you aren't currently looking for a job, network immediately. If you have already started your job search, begin networking immediately.

The very first step in networking is you have to make contact with the person. Start by expand your LinkedIn connections. is THE professional social network site. Connect with everyone you have met with in real life. Connect with current colleagues. Connect with people you met at social gatherings. Connect with members of clubs you are part of. Connect with members of your religious groups. Connect with members of sport teams you are on. Connect with relatives.

Go through your cellphone contacts and send a quick text to people you haven't spoken to in a while. Just say "hi" and ask how they are doing. Scroll through your old instant message chats and do the same thing.

When you are out in the real world, make a point to introduce yourself to new people at social gatherings. Start getting to know people at work you haven't really spoken to before.

Start with 5 people today and then contact one person every day. Just connect with them to start with, don't make it awkward and ask for a favor straight away.


Once you have made the initial contact, it's time to "connect" with them. After you say hello, find common ground. People like people like themselves. You can always find something. Do you like the same sports team? Did you go to the same college? Did you grow up in the same town? Do you both have children? Are you both interested in off roading? Are you both competitive crocheters?

Like and comment on their social media posts. Share interesting blogs and articles with them. Send a quick IM\email to say just to say "hello, just thinking about you." Text them saying "Happy Birthday." Congratulate them on a recent achievement. Show you like them and are interested in them. Make a connection between the two of you.

If someone in your network might be able to help a contact - introduce them. If someone in your network could benefit from a contacts business product or service - let them know. Connect with someone by connecting them to someone else.

If you are emailing a new contact start with a compliment. "I really liked your talk on chicken farming." Then share a similarity. "I think we both know Sally Jones from Yale." Then offer to help them. "Can I introduce you to Bruce Banner from Harvard who is in the same field?" Finally, make an easy ask. "I was wondering if you could forward my resume to your boss."

If you are emailing an existing connection, start by asking how are they. "How is the family?" Then give a quick personal update. "My daughter just won the regional swimming championships for doggy paddle." Then ask for your small favor. "I was hoping you could introduce me to Jake from State Farm."

Networking online is good, but networking in person is even better. If you are an extrovert networking in large groups at conferences, team meetings and banquets. If you are an introvert schedule coffee or lunch with one person. Manage your energy so you give the best impression of yourself. Make it a goal to network in real life with at least one person a week. 

Reach out to contacts and ask for a meeting just to learn about their company. Make it as easy as possible for them to say "yes" by suggesting times. Remember, the goal is simply to create a mutually beneficial relationship. You don't have to do anything awkward when you meet like beg for a job.

When you are meeting with someone in person be present and give them your full and undivided attention. Put away your phone. Snooze notifications on your watch. Practice active listening. Make good eye contact. Acknowledge what they are saying. Smile. Be genuinely interested in what they are saying.

Follow up after meeting. Tell them how nice it was to meet them. Highlight interesting parts of the conversation. Send them additional useful information related to the conversation you had. Reinforce the connection so they remember you.

Lastly, reconnect regularly (every 3 months.) Life is busy, connections fade. Keep the connection active by quickly touching base with them every few months.


The first step in networking is making contact. The second step is connecting. The third step is contributing. Remember, true networking is about mutually beneficial relations. Contribute something before you ask for something. Make sure you have “given” before trying to “get”

Ask them “what could you use help with right now?” Ask them “what is your biggest challenge at the moment?” Ask them "who can I introduce you to?"

Get in to the habit of doing "five minute favors" for people. Make introductions. Offer feedback. Share brilliant ideas. Give endorsements. Give them business referrals. Re-share social media posts. Do small things that contribute to other people on a regular basis.

Once you have made a connection and contributed, asking for a small favor won't feel so awkward any more. Whatever you ask someone to do for you, make it as easy as possible for them to do it. This greatly increases the chances they will do it.

If you are truly networking, it doesn't feel awkward, it feels good because it's part of a mutually beneficial relationship.

A career coach can help you with networking.

You might also be interested in reading: The complete guide to creating a resume.