How Do You Effectively Network?

Mike Folinas, University of Toronto

Networking is a necessary skill that will help us move forward in our careers. Connections that we make, through various networking activities, can have instantaneous effects or assist with opportunities in the future. Everyone takes a different approach on networking and we posed the question to our membership for some helpful tips. The following were some great suggestions:

  • Make connections and maintain relationships
  • Attend conferences and other social events (within your institution and within your industry)
  • Join Linkedin and other social networking sites to connect with friends/colleagues. Consider joining different Linkedin groups related to your interests.
  • Meet and Mingle – figure out what like minded individuals spend their time doing and try new activities
  • Develop a thick skin to handle criticism

We consulted the experts (the recommended resources) to help clarify the top 5 networking strategies and they are listed below:

  1. Set goals – establish your objectives for networking early. Consider establishing a set of questions to help guide you through the process. a) What are you trying to gain? b) What do you have to offer? c) What is your timeframe?
  2. Expand your network - To effectively scale your network and remain relevant in an ever-changing world, strengthen your network by meeting someone new online every week.
  3. Branding – Establishing your brand is the most important part of networking. Develop your message in one or two sentences and practice the delivery.
  4. Focus on quality rather than quantity – Experts indicate that focusing on quality connections will help you move your career forward. Concentrate on connections with mutual benefits.
  5. Focus less on selling yourself and more on how you can help others. It’s in the spirit of giving that others are more likely to help you in return. This reminds me a quote by Walter Payton, Chicago Bear’s running back “we are stronger together than we are alone.”