Born between the 1980s and the 2000s, “digital natives” are probably as fascinating as they are paradoxical: developing a community of thousands — or even hundreds of thousands — of followers on Instagram in a few months? Easy-peasy ! Reaching millions of views on TikTok by dancing in their bathroom? Challenge accepted. Making contact with a professional in order to develop their professional network? IMPOSSIBLE!
If using and mastering social networks such as Instagram, TikTok, or even Snapchat can really serve as a springboard and offer golden opportunities, they are not the only tools to provide such advantages!
Building up a professional network from an early age can also prove to be a real asset … but we also understand that, for some young people, it can be a source of stress.
Don’t worry, though: the goal of this article is to help you unravel all the secrets of networking. We are going to share with you the best tips to build a great professional network and prove to you this is the way to go on 2021!
STEP 1 : WORK ON YOUR IMAGE AND YOUR ON/OFFLINE PRESENCE
YOUR E-REPUTATION MATTERS
Think of me as a friend when I tell you this: check your online presence before you contact any professional or before applying for a job. Why? Well, let’s say you want to be sure your image is pristine clean if somebody looks up your name on Google.
To do so, all you need to do is open a new tab on private browsing mode and enter your first and last names. That way, you will be able to check the results and have a glimpse of what the professional (or the company) you want to contact will see when typing your name.
Moral of the story: if you see something you don’t like, it’s time to remove it!
BE VISIBLE ONLINE
By establishing your online presence, you will increase your chances of meeting experts. However, it is not always easy to figure out which social media is the most adequate to help you grow your online network, especially because it depends on the type of professionals you want to connect with.
For example, you may use social platforms such as TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook to get in touch with professionals. However, if you choose this option, keep in mind that the content you share on your personal accounts must be relevant for the professionals you are targeting.
Why? Because, believe it or not, your latest holiday pictures or evening videos with friends are unlike to impress the professionals you want to chat with (no offence!). You may use these platforms to create valuable content that may allow you to nurture your professional circle.
For instance, you can create an Instagram page that will both reflect your hobbies and that of the professionals (or people) you want to connect with. Let’s imagine you want to develop your network within the sports industry. You shall consider sharing gym trainings clips or yummy recipes addressing athletes nutritional needs. If your dream industry is fashion, you may start by sharing some good shopping tips on your city and pictures of your outfits.
In addition, remember to create your own profile on professional platforms and tools such as LinkedIn, My Job Glasses or Viadeo (hello Frenchies!): with the right approach, you are more likely to connect with professionals on these rather than other social platforms.
GIVE PROFESSIONALS GOOD REASONS TO JOIN YOUR PROFESSIONAL NETWORK
This may come as a shock, but, guess what? If you want to connect with professionals, your profile must seem a bit interesting at the very least. Friendly reminder: the goal of building a professional network is ultimately to forge quality human relationships that will be helpful and interesting for all parties.
But before establishing this relationship, you must succeed in motivating the professional to join your network. To do this, think about working on and taking care of your image. The goal is to make others want to know more about you! When you contact or meet professionals, make sure you pay attention to the way you speak, your spelling, your appearance, and the message you are sending out about yourself. Preparing a list of reasons on why the professional should be part of your circle is recommended.
STEP 2 : PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR SOCIAL CIRCLE
KEEP IN TOUCH !
During your studies, you will have the opportunity to meet other students, teachers, speakers, but also professionals: keep in touch with all these people!
Why? Because they might be able to help you in the future! Just because you were in the same class at some point doesn’t mean you will all end up doing the same job. And even if that’s the case, it could still be a chance for you to create synergies together.
YOUR FRIENDS’ FRIENDS ARE YOUR FRIENDS
(This is not a tongue twister, I promise!). By keeping in touch with all the people you meet, you will have the opportunity to access their own network through their recommendation or getting invited to their own social events! So keep in touch with all your former classmates, colleagues, and bosses: the ones you met during your student jobs, summer internships or work-study jobs!
Finally, if you switch companies several times during your career, make sure you leave on good terms, your future employer might contact your previous ones.
BE AT THE RIGHT PLACE, AT THE RIGHT TIME!
When trying to grow your professional network, you should know this: good timing and curiosity will always be rewarded!
By staying up-to-date on the latest trends in your sector, you will be able to identify and participate in various events: webinars, forums, afterworks, conferences, etc. These events are a good opportunity for you to meet interesting professionals whose goal is to meet new people.
Basically, if you already know what sector you are interested in, you should definitely take the time, each month, to monitor the events that take place throughout the year in this sector and try to attend as many as you can. Once again, it is the perfect way for you to meet professionals but also to justify your interest in a sector or a profession. The good idea is also to come with a small business card or to think about sharing your social profile.
Dare to approach professionals in this type of event, that is what they are here for!
Finally, you can also join specific groups on social networks, associations, clubs, online forums, etc.
STEP 3: ON YOUR WAY TO YOUR FUTURE PROFESSIONAL NETWORK
CONTACTING A PROFESSIONAL: DO YOUR HOMEWORK FIRST
No matter which social media you are on (LinkedIn, My Job Glasses, Instagram, etc.) there is a universal rule: before you contact a professional, you should do some research on him/her to find a good catchphrase! You want to avoid tactics such as poking him/her on Facebook or sending an impersonal message.
To start the discussion, you can for example prove to him/her that you are really motivated get in touch by mentioning his/her latest intervention in a media or event.
Another good idea is to prepare relevant questions to start the conversation and engage. Finally, remember to stay relevant: you can talk about common interests, similar backgrounds (if this is the case), etc.
EXPAND YOUR SEARCH
Even if you have a very precise idea of the sector in which you want to work, it is always interesting to count people with different expertise in your network. That way, you might be able to create synergies with other companies, discover new external service providers and develop new skills.
By meeting professionals with different expertises, you will develop your general knowledge and discover new professions (that may suit you)!
CHERISH YOUR CONNECTIONS AND KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING
You got in touch with a professional, and you had the opportunity to talk to him/her? Congratulations! This is a very important first step. However, now you have to nurture this relationship: stay in touch, organise meetings, react to his/her posts on social media (comment, like, share), continue to share refreshing content… In exchange, they will think of doing the same!