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How To Build Your Professional Network

By Autumn McClenaghan on Jul 16, 2014

Professional-NetworkOne of the common questions I get from students about is, "How do I meet people to network with?" My answer is always the same, "Begin with people you already know!" Networking involves creating a supportive system that allows individuals and groups with common interests to share information and services. Here are a few channels you can use to build, create and strengthen professional contacts and relationships.

Networking can involve a variety of different activities including asking for time, information, advice and referrals. It is a great way to gain insight about your field from others and learn from their experiences while giving you the opportunity to increase the number of professional connections you have.

Referrals

Start by connecting with your current network and seek out referrals. Be clear and specific about what type of referral you are interested in, be sure to follow up accordingly and thank your network contacts for their endorsements. Think of all the people you speak to on a regular basis then expand from there. Here are a few examples of who you can speak to in your immediate circles:

  • Fellow classmates and professors at school
  • Your colleagues, clients, vendors, customers and supervisors at work
  • Family, friends and extended social networks
  • Former professors and even your past employers

Professional Organizations

Associations and professional organizations are great ways to connect and network with other professionals who are established in your industry and help you stay current on field trends and policies. Networking events and conferences are often offered both nationally and regionally. Here is a short list of professional organizations you may consider joining depending on your area of expertise:

  • American Marketing Association (AMA) - As the leading organization for marketers, AMA is the trusted go-to resource for marketers and academics.
  • The Professional Accounting Society of America (PASA) - Since 2005, PASA focuses on entry-level and mid-level associates working at accounting firms across the nation.
  • The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) - This is the world's most largest association that is dedicated to serving the needs of HR professionals. Many of Brandman's programs' learning outcomes align with SHRM standards.
  • National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) - This is the world's largest organization working on behalf of young children. It strives to raise the quality of education for all children from birth through eight.
  • American Federation of Teachers (AFT) - With more than one million members nationwide, AFT has grown into a trade union representing workers in education, health care and public service.
  • National Association of Social Workers (NASW) - A professional organization of social workers in the U.S. with focuses on promoting the professional development of its members, establishing and maintaining professional standards of practice and advancing sound social policies.
  • National Criminal Justice Association - A national voice in shaping and implementing criminal justice policy representing state, tribal and local governments on crime prevention and crime control issues.
  • American Psychological Association (APA) - The largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States, and the world's largest association of psychologists.

LinkedIn

The online social channel specifically designed for professionals and their networking needs. It provides the platform to showcase your skills and increase your connections. You can use LinkedIn to expand your visibility, find company information and employee contacts, ask for and provide advice and recommendations, locate professional organizations and associations, and join and participate in groups. Through your LinkedIn network, you can see how you are connected to other professionals and seek possible referrals.

Find Brandman on LinkedIn

Use LinkedIn to network with the Brandman University community. Join the school's networking group and alumni group to stay connected to your peers long after you graduate.

Weekly Webinars

LinkedIn offers free LinkedIn Learning Webinars weekly. Check out LinkedIn 101 if you are a new user or are looking to get more comfortable with the basics. How to Network on LinkedIn outlines ten steps to getting connected with your network including keeping your profile up to date and researching new connections.

Additional Resources

Volunteering, informational interviews, and using other social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook are other ways to expand your personal network. Brandman students and alumni can gain more information about these and other options through Brandman University's Career Services.

 

Topics: Career, Schools


Author Autumn McClenaghan of Brandman University

Autumn McClenaghan

As the Director of Career Planning and Development at Brandman University, I work with students to help them reach their career goals. I invite you to subscribe and revisit the Brandman Blog to find information and stories about professional development topics such as resume building, job interviews, career planning, social media and more!