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Sure-Fire Ways to Build a Powerful and Helpful Professional Network

Updated: Nov 2, 2021

by Neekita Patel | 11 Apr 2017

You have likely heard this phrase numerous times, ‘It’s not how much you know, but the people you know.’ This is the right advice for professionals with years of working experience, but what if you’re a fresh graduate or a young professional?

Building a network seems daunting, but is easier than you think. What you need is resourcefulness, the ability to conduct small talk and not be embarrassed to speak with strangers. It’s not too difficult, and here are some tips from FutureLab’s awesome mentors:

1. Be focused and start locally

You don’t need to go far out of your way to build a network. Even from home, you can look up people in your interested industry on LinkedIn. By doing so, you can study their background, and request to connect with them. In the same way, FutureLab has a platform full of experienced professionals that may be in your targeted industry.

The tougher part comes when you want to throw yourself out there. To get through this ordeal, have a script ready that includes your interests, targeted industry and be up to date with the latest news, not just within your sector, but all around.

A cheat note here is, to also be aware if you have any relatives/parents of friends who are in and around your targeted industry. Don’t be scared to reach out to them and request for a chat. You will be surprised at how helpful people are.

Lastly, always remind yourself that “every no, gets me closer to a yes”.

Speak with Equities Manager, Securities Comission (Malaysia), Sahil Kamani

2. Network and munch

At workplaces, most friendships happen organically, so there’s no reason to go out of your way to form new friendships. After all, you spend a ton of time with them, so it makes sense you’ll get to know each other.

However, secluding yourself at your desk all day may not be the best idea. One easy way to make network is during lunch.

Eat lunch with your colleagues. This can be an effective way to bond with them, get to know people from other departments and more importantly, tap into their knowledge in an informal setting.

This will help you to expand your network as well as your presence in the company. It can get tempting every now and then to hide away to meet deadlines.

But if this becomes a practice, you might eventually be overlooked personally and professionally too.

Speak with Senior Executive Strategic Planning and Development, International Medical University (Malaysia), Tarminder Singh

3. Participate in online communities

There are many forums and web-based communities that you can participate in when you’re free. Virtual communities are new, relatively unstructured and dynamic.

It’s simple. You can easily catch up on forum posts and leave comment whenever you like or dress up for a fancy dinner, this way gives you more options.

This also gives you the opportunity to be involved in a circle that meets your interests and passion better. The benefits of this goes beyond just an expansion of network. It also helps develop an independent online reputation and stronger personal marketability and branding.

Speak to Senior Engineer at Petronas (Malaysia), Kuhan Pathy

4. Network with sincerity

Through online channels, such as those mentioned above, it has become easier than ever to make professional networks.

But now that networking is becoming easier, it is monumentally important to find ways to stand out, and being sincere definitely helps.

Some ways of doing this are by determining your motives and goals ahead of time before speaking with someone. Whilst speaking, be genuine and show appreciation for the opposite person’s time. Take time to think about your conversation with them.

And, also a good practice is to always send a thank you note or personalised email to follow up.

Speak to Teacher at Keningau Vocational College (Malaysia), Sirhajwan Idek

Building a professional network is not hard at all. When it comes down to it, it’s about making friends that have common interests. You are building a network in which everyone’s prepared to give and take, so relax and enjoy it! More than just making connections, you are making friends! Happy networking Futurists!

Get connected with FutureLab

FutureLab is an online mentorship platform that connects students, working professionals, jobseekers and entrepreneurs with expert industry mentors across the region to help them gain new skills and insights to enhance their employability and career growth. We also provide our mentoring software for corporations, organizations and learning institutions to upskill and engage their workforce and graduates that increases their efficiency and productivity. Sign up as a mentee or join us as mentors today!

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