How I Learned to Build Professional Networks From Scratch
You don’t need connections to break into an industry
In an epic wave of hating your job, 41% of people worldwide are thinking about quitting this year. And over half of Gen Z are would be job-quitters post-pandemic. We all want new meaning. So how does almost half the population hit the bricks on finding a new, more rewarding path?
Networking, of course.
But that can be easier said than done.
During a recent gripe session with friend and fellow entrepreneur, Kareem, the necessary evil of networking came up. “Everyone keeps telling me to ‘tap my network’ for my first round of fundraising, but I don’t have a network! I didn’t go to school with people with money and my family can’t help. What can I do instead?”
As an entrepreneur, networking became my second language. And the idea that you need contacts to find a job, raise capital, or land clients is outdated.
When it comes to networking, a blank slate is as good a place to start as any. I’ve been there many times . And the basic principle is always the same:
1) Find the right people
2) Get their attention
3) Show them what you bring to the table
Sounds simple, but it’s the “how” that trips people up. So let’s get to it. Two startups and three career changes into my journey, let me share how I build networks from scratch.
Find the right people
The trick is to find people who have decision-making authority — and directly relevant experience. Don’t make assumptions based on job titles. In a world where a “Brand Evangelist” or a “Chief Inspiration Officer” could mean anything from running a warehouse to managing HR to scheduling the Instagram posts, you’ll need to do some benign stalking.
Has your target contact given presentations, posted relevant content, or otherwise shown activity in the area you’re interested in? If so, that contact is worth pursing.
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