Grow your network

Networking 101

Networking is developing and maintaining relationships. In other words, networking is meeting and engaging with others over time to foster a collaborative support system— your network.

The most advantageous networks are mutually beneficial and often take decades to establish. Networking takes place both in person and online. Maybe you’re just starting to prioritize networking or looking to improve your current practices; in either case, these three principles can help.

  1. Be Engaged

Put yourself out there. You’ve got to meet someone before you can get to know them! Attend networking events, shake hands, ask questions and share ideas and stories. Online, this looks like commenting on posts, sharing content or reaching out to others individually to ask questions and learn from their experiences.

  1. Be Prompt

If someone has reached out to you, don’t leave them waiting for a response. If you are attending an event or going to meet someone, arrive early. Time is finite and in high demand. Being considerate of another person’s time makes a positive impression.

  1. Be Involved

Join professional groups, whether online or meeting locally, and participate in discussions by contributing your ideas. Join Pi Kappa Phi area alumni associations or alumni chapters and attend events. Be active in your community by volunteering or attending gatherings.

These principles apply to in-person and online networking, so keep them in mind as you focus on digital mediums. LinkedIn remains the leading online platform for networking and is often more efficient for growing your network than in-person methods. Use the following tips to get started on LinkedIn and use the platform to expand your network.

LinkedIn Tips

Remember to keep things simple, updated and accurate when creating or updating your LinkedIn profile. Information should be succinct and precise, and added to your profile whenever something noteworthy occurs (i.e., promotions, new jobs, acknowledgments, conferences, etc.).

If you are just getting started, here are five steps to get you on track:

  • Add a professional headshot and a headline that conveys who you are or what you are currently pursuing/offering to clients or prospective employers.
  • Draft four to five sentences under your “About Me” section.
  • Update your experiences. Close or add roles, include descriptions and consider including your volunteer efforts.
  • Select skills to add to your profile from LinkedIn’s preset list.
  • Start connecting with other users! If your connections are low, expand your network by adding two to five people a day.

Because your LinkedIn profile is a living resume, you must present yourself well. Once you’ve completed any updates to your profile, you can focus on growing your network! You can always return to your profile to make other necessary changes or updates.

When growing your LinkedIn network, consider the principles mentioned: be engaged, prompt and involved. With those in mind, here are some action items to put into practice:

  • Download the LinkedIn app to your smartphone and turn on notifications.
  • Request to Join Pi Kappa Phi LinkedIn pages – the national Alumni Group can be found here.
  • Join interest groups. There are professional groups related to industry, position and area.
  • Create a post. If you’re unsure what to post, you can share recent achievements, photos from a conference (and maybe a key takeaway),or well wishes during the holiday season. In any case, the goal is to be active in your network.

As a final thought, remember that something is better than nothing. Our aim should be progression, not perfection. Don’t worry about how many connections you have or events you attend monthly. Focus on fostering meaningful relationships with like-minded professionals, and you will succeed in networking.