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How to Develop a Professional Network as a Recent Graduate

Graduating college, finishing your big project, finishing high school—all of these moments mark an end of achievement to the start of a new one. Whether you are looking for a new job, joining a new club, or expanding your network, it is hard to know where to start. With technology at our fingertips and a pandemic still around, it is even harder than before to have contact with your network or, even harder, to build one. But lucky for us young professionals, we have resources at our fingertips to help expand our network and engage with new people. Let’s dive into it.

Tip one: Subscribe to local industry newsletters

Typically, like-minded people will engage, develop content, or include their news in newsletters. From there, you can see if there is anything or anyone you are interested in. Send them an email, message, or follow them on LinkedIn. Some newsletters include:

Tip two: Be blunt (but not too blunt)

Take to your LinkedIn and set a status that you are looking for mentors, industry professionals related to your career field, or state that you want to expand your network and see who can spread the word or share suggestions for connections. LinkedIn was created for professional networking, so take advantage of it! If being too forward in your asking is daunting, start with a post asking what people’s favorite podcasts, books, business tools, and more are. See who engages or likes what you like and start widening your network. Engaging is key to building your network.

Tip three: Join virtual groups

Facebook and LinkedIn both offer great options to join groups. Start doing your research for what kind of groups you want to join. Surrounding yourself with people who have similar interests, hobbies, and goals will offer a creative outlet and inspiration all while connecting you with people in your network.

Tip four: Use school resources

Universities offer endless support for students and alumni. Research what areas you can start getting involved in or use to achieve your goals. Even teachers are a great tool to leverage. Ask in class if they have any networks or mentors they recommend, and if you have graduated, send them an email or a letter and see where it goes.

Tip five: Networking

It may be considered “old school,” but networking events are great to help build your network. Start researching local events in your industry or interest area and start attending. Let’s Detroit often has or participates in in-person or virtual job fairs and networking events, so keep an eye on that. Bring a business card, previous work samples, and information you want to share. You never know who you are going to meet or what opportunities may arise, so be prepared.

Tip six: Be consistent

Building a solid network takes time. Be consistent with engaging on social media and connecting with the network you already have. Even if it is only one or two people, you need to stay connected with your network to keep it strong.

Tip seven: Be intentional

Just like building a network will take time, so will figuring out how you want to build your network. There will be trial and error as some groups might not offer what you need, or a networking event may be canceled. But it is important to be intentional. If there is an event or opportunity, but it is not something you are interested in, don’t waste your time and energy on it. Put it into something that is truly what you want to focus on.

Written by Megan Lasley

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