No. 1 networking tip for young professionals: Be genuine

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Whether you’re a young professional, fresh out of college entering corporate America, or a new entrepreneur, finding events and people to build your network can be difficult. Many want to build their network and meet like-minded individuals, but as a newbie where do you start?

Working as a freelance writer in a new state, I had to push myself into uncomfortable zones in order to meet new people and build a network that worked for me.  After attending networking mixers, conferences and online social media groups, these networking tips helped me build a stronger network.

Skip cold networking events — join groups

You are sure to make more meaningful connections if you bypass the networking mixers where you’re meant to just pass along your business cards. It may seem fruitful giving out a lot of business cards, but keeping the quality of the connection at the forefront is most important. Use websites like Meetup to find networking groups in your field that applies to you. If you’re a young professional like me, the small talk and swift exchange of business cards may give you anxiety if you’re less established. Meetup Groups allow you to build a rapport with your peers in that field and increase the possibility of collaborating in the future. Be genuine.

Use your current network to your advantage

The best network will always be people who have similar demographics to you. Networking with a well-established individual can put you at a disadvantage due to a lack of relativity. Your immediate peers are in the same boat as you and more likely to have similar struggles that you have. Like-minded people are good to go with the flow, but sprinkling in a few people on a range of different places in their journey will help you continue to grow.

Show your value

You’ve gathered a few business cards and followed up with those who were interested in collaborating, now what? It’s important to not let the time you connect with your network age. Reach out to your connections from time to time, not just when you need something, but to build a quality connection. Offer your services if you can assist with a project, and be open to sharing your network with them. Good networking is practical for all parties involved when support is constant and mutual.

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