Regardless of what profession you might be in – networking really is the key that accelerates success. It is an invaluable tool that allows you to interact and learn from like-mindedindividuals with experience in your chosen field. It helps you to make valuable connections and can quite possibly open doors to new opportunities.

For many young professionals, networking can be an intimidating process. It can be very daunting to have to put yourself out there and interact with a range of individuals quite possibly with a great deal more career experience than you.

Luckily, there are some simple tips to networking as a young professional that will help you to feel more comfortable as you begin the practice of building connections.

Tip #1: Mindset

The most effective networking comes from the building of genuine relationships – not a business card exchange. When you embark upon the networking journey look at it as a way to create authentic relationships with people and not simply finding new business contacts. Approach the networking process like you are building friendships so look for common ground and interests and invest in creating long term sustainable relationships.

Tip #2: Keep your connections close

As a young professional you might have a smaller network than others who have been in the network for longer and that’s ok. It’s all about working with what you have. Initially, your network will most likely comprise of family, friends, teachers, professors and co-workers. It is really important to look after these connections and to keep in contact with people who know you, your work and capabilities. With social media it is really easy to keep in contact with people so make sure that you do because you never know when an old friend might be able to open up a new door for you.

Tip #3: Use social media to your advantage and create an online presence

Social media can be a golden tool in the world of networking. It’s an effective way to get to know contacts and to easily keep in touch with like-minded people. Recruiters often use social media platforms to get a feel for potential candidates and to look into their background, skills and experience so make sure that your online presence is up to date and reflective of the image that you want to present.

Tip #4: Be careful what you ask for

Whatever you do don’t ask anyone you know for a job – that is a big networking no no! Your network should be used to build relationships and connections and establish a positive rapport with your contacts so that if in the future any opportunities present themselves then your contact will be happy to refer you.

Tip #5: Use your time wisely

Everyone knows the old saying that “time is money” and in the networking world this is very true. When utilising your network be mindful that people’s time is precious so use it sparingly and effectively. Make sure that you are organised and know what you want out of the exchange so that you make the most out of every opportunity.

Tip #6: Be an effective listener

One of the most effective skills that any polished networker has is to be a good listener. You learn more from listening than you do by talking so be sure to ask open-ended questions that allow your contact to share information and advice that you may find valuable.

Tip #7: Don’t be shy to ask for suggestions on how to expand your network

One of the main goals of networking is to branch out and expand your pool of contacts. Every person that you know knows hundreds of other people, some of which who might be a good fit for you so don’t be shy in asking for recommendations.

Tip #8: Follow up

The key to establishing a rapport with someone is to build on and cement the relationship and the key to this is in following up. If you see, hear or read of something that might be of interest to them let them know. Regularly touch base and keep things fresh and current. Contact is key!

Tip #9: Mind your manners

Don’t ever underestimate the power of good manners. Networking is all about creating genuine lasting relationships so make sure that you thank your connections for any help, advice or contacts they might provide you. Being humble, grateful and appreciative will take you a long way in the networking world.

As with anything in life practice makes perfect so the more you network the better you will get at it. Remember at the end of the day the goal of networking is to build solid, lasting genuine relationships. Keep in mind these basic tips and hopefully they will help you to succeed in the networking world.