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9 Networking Steps to Propel Your Career

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

Networking can help propel your career forward. Building relationships and trading information can be mutually beneficial to all parties involved. In 2017, LinkedIn conducted a survey that showed 80 per cent of professionals consider networking important to the advancement of their careers. This is largely due to the fact that 70 per cent were hired at companies where they already had a connection.(1)

Networking can be intimidating, full of strangers, small talk, and imposter syndrome, but one thing that the professional world can agree on is that it’s all worth it. The more your name or face appears before a potential employer, the more memorable you become, and soon enough you’re the first person they think of when a job position opens up.

Even when there aren’t job openings to be had, there is much that can be learned through networking. It is a chance for career development, partnerships, and collaboration. It gives you an opportunity to speak to people at different levels of your career path and discover how they got to the position they’re in today. Likewise, one conversation with a like-minded professional can result in breakthroughs you hadn’t thought of on your own.

Did You Know?

84% of people prefer to meet in person. As a result, if your contacts are only maintained online, 28% of business can be lost.(2)


1) Introductions

If you find striking up a conversation with a stranger to be daunting, start where you’re comfortable. Do your friends or family know anyone that works in your current or desired field? If so, have them introduce you. This gives you a connection and common ground to start from. Your new contact might even be able to introduce you to another, and before you know it, your network has grown substantially!

2) Just Ask!

You might have heard the phrase “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” The statement rings traue in networking. Most professionals love helping those just starting off, especially in a welcoming industry like agriculture. Truth be told, people often love talking about themselves, and having someone look up to them and be interested in their work can make their day. On the other hand, if the answer is “no,” this might just be due to the busy nature of their schedule. So remember, more often than not, it’s nothing personal!

3) Listen

If talking isn’t your forte, then focus on listening. Instead of dreading your next words, give your full attention to the person in front of you. Often your next question will arise naturally from something they’ve said. Also, try to remember their name and slip it into the conversation. People like hearing their own name; it makes them feel more comfortable around you.

4) Business Cards

Have you ever forgotten someone’s name moments after you’ve heard it? We’ve all been there. Having business cards handy will help make you more memorable to the people you meet. Don’t wait for them to ask, just offer your card and let them know you’re always open to connecting. Often the person you’re speaking with will give you their business card in return.

Many websites offer great deals on business cards and have templates you can follow. Don’t worry if you don’t have a job position yet, you can always put your school or program down in place of a job title. Just make your interest or connection to the industry clear. This way, your contact can connect your name with what you need or have to offer.

5) Buddy Up

If you’re at an event or conference with a lot of people and aren’t the biggest fan of crowds, you can always use the buddy system. Find someone you know and approach new people together. This way if you’re not sure what to say next, there are two of you to keep the conversation rolling. This takes pressure off first-time networkers and allows them to get a feel for the process.

6) Prepare

Being prepared for any situation can make it less stressful. If you know you will be attending an event or conference, prepare some icebreakers. Also, think about what questions people might ask you and prepare responses ahead of time. This will help prevent awkward silences or stammered replies. Knowing your stuff, having certain questions ready, and providing a clear goal for the conversation will help you look prepared and professional.

7) Be Friendly

Most importantly, remember to be yourself. People are more likely to connect with someone who appears genuine over someone who is trying to schmooze them over for personal gain. Networking is a give and take. It’s about collaboration and sharing information. The person wants to know that you’re someone they can trust and someone they can work with in the future. Listening to what they have to say and humbly accepting any critiques lets them know you are serious about growing and learning. Professionals at all levels have to acknowledge failures and accept critiques to get ahead. Learning from your mistakes is an important part of any business—it’s how you successfully move forward.

8) Follow on Social Media

Follow your network of contacts and their companies on social media. This will keep you updated on any new projects or initiatives your contacts have on the go. These could be opportunities to collaborate, learn more about a topic, or act as talking points the next time you speak with them. It also gives you a leg up in job interviews if you’re already familiar with the company’s messaging and latest news.

9) Keep in Touch

Whether you were introduced by a friend, met at an event, or connected online, it is important to stay in touch with your network. Invite them out for coffee, schedule a phone call, or if they’re busy, send a quick email or message. This will keep you on their radar; a connection not maintained will fade.

For more information on careers in agriculture explore our Nourishing Minds publications here.



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