Networking 101


Ellen M. Keiley, CPC

A good network can be powerful and open doors. From securing coveted concert tickets to securing a job, your network can help. Networking opportunities exist everywhere you go from the playground to the office. You should always be on and have your antenna up. Whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, just be yourself, be positive and approachable, and make a conscious effort to meet more people. You will end up meeting people that can open doors for you, while also opening yourself up to opportunities that otherwise may not have existed.

Networking is important for so many reasons. According to US Dept of Labor Statistics, 70% of all jobs are found through networking. As they say, resumes can go into a black hole, and it is a very competitive world. Rather than simply taking the traditional route of submitting your resume and hoping for the best, be proactive.

If there is an organization you would like to get an interview with, use LinkedIn to see if you have connections that can help you. If you have a good network, chances are you will either know someone within the company that may be able to help get you in the door, or you may know someone that knows someone within the company that may be willing to pass on your resume. As you get further into the interview process, reach out to your network to get recommendations.

In addition to getting a job, networking is a critical source for business development in any environment from a start-up to a well established organization. A great amount of business can be secured through referrals from your network. Therefore, you should build a diverse network of contacts, and make sure they know exactly what you do. Often people reach out to their networks for recommendations when looking to hire a service provider or when purchasing a product. If you think about it, wouldn’t you prefer to go to a trusted source rather than take a chance on a product or service you don’t know?

Networking can take place in any setting. Anytime you are in contact with another person, there is a networking opportunity. I have even networked walking down stairs during a fire drill and in elevators on the way to my office! Why not maximize your time and make any situation a networking opportunity?

Attending events is a good way to meet new contacts and build your network, but make sure you follow up with the people you make a connection with to ensure maximum return on investment on the time you spent at the event. Do your research and choose specific organizations to focus on based on your interests and profession. With each organization, you will meet a whole new set of contacts.

You may want to scan the guest list before attending an event and focus on a few people you would like to meet, or you can rely on serendipity and just go and see who you meet. Both ways can be effective, it is just a matter of personal preference. Even if you meet one person that you connect with and stay in touch, it makes attending the event worthwhile. You never know where a connection can lead to. If you just stay at home and don’t attend events, you are going to have a smaller network and are missing out on opportunities.

Be sure to develop a system to identify the most important contacts in your network that you need to stay in touch with, and track your activity. In addition to seeing your contacts, always look for ways you can help them and be a connector.

There are other ways to stay in touch, such as reaching out to your contacts for reasons ranging from saying happy birthday to congratulating them on a promotion or award. Scanning updates on LinkedIn is a good way to stay informed as to what is going on with your network.

Building and maintaining a good network is a continuous process. You can and should add to your network, but make sure you always focus on relationship building and staying in touch with your existing contacts. The most effective relationships are those that are mutually beneficial. If you want to build your network, you need to get out and meet people, be yourself, and a variety of opportunities will come your way. Over time with practice, networking will become second nature, and you will be networking without even thinking about it!

Ellen Keiley is president of EMK Consulting Group, LLC, a provider of business development coaching and consulting, training, and public relations services. Follow Ellen on Twitter at @ellenmkeiley and visit her website at

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