How to network

When you’re in college everyone tells you that you need to network and meet as many people as possible. What’s often not spoken about is how to actually do it.

Most of the career opportunities that I’ve been fortunate to have thus far have come from people I knew. Many times it was intentional other times it was not.

Something that’s payed outsized rewards on my life is consistently being in rooms that I don’t belong in.

Since I never really had any kind of parental or family network to rely on, I had to find a way to build my own.

I started by going to a lot of events in college. Then, I realized that hosting events was better because I would get one on one time with speakers. As I got to know speakers, I slowly got access to their networks.

Most of the networking in my life hasn’t been intentional. Networking for the most part has been a side effect of being someone worth knowing.

Every time I was ruthlessly working towards some kind of goal or ambition, the people I needed to know just naturally came into my life.

I’ve found this happens by mentioning to people I speak to what I’m working on and being candid about my challenges. If they sense conviction they’re likely to introduce me to someone they know who’s might be able to help.

Once you make a decision the universe conspires to make it happen.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

A few other points no one ever told me about:

  • Go to events with the intent to learn not to push an agenda
  • Don’t sell but find a memorable way to stand out
  • Get to know people as humans not machines
  • Be vulnerable in conversation
  • Follow up with a clear ask
  • Ask inquisitive questions
  • Don’t be transactional
  • Forge a relationship
  • Check-in often

I find making a decision is often harder than meeting the right people. The key is to build conviction first, the people often follow.

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