How to create authentic connections and build your network

“Hi I’m Laura and I’m seeking opportunities…”

A great way to meet several people at once is to go to networking events. These types of events are organized by professional groups, alumni associations, or other types of clubs and organizations as a way to meet other people in a specific industry or geographical location. These are extremely helpful when it comes to making in-person connections and expanding your network. Plus, meeting people face to face is one way to avoid the dreaded application black hole.

When I moved to NYC without a job, it was incredibly scary. I knew I needed to put myself out there in order to find a job, but I didn’t know many people or have any connections. So networking events were the answer. Every night, I went to a different event, even if it wasn’t a perfect fit with my background. For example, despite not having an MBA, I went to a Digital Media MBA group event. Various alumni events reminded me that going to school in Columbia, Missouri is a bit different than going to school at Columbia. It didn’t matter if it was a Spanish language meetup, a journalism club meeting, or a professional women’s organization event, I attended all with the express purpose of connecting with others.

When you live in a new city and don’t know anyone, going to a networking event with a bunch of strangers may seem even scarier than moving there in the first place. I had to remind myself constantly that everyone was there to do the same thing: meet people. Since that’s the whole purpose, check your nerves at the door, take a deep breath, and be bold!

How do I find events? The internet is a beautiful thing, and you can find tons of groups online. Search MeetUp, Eventbrite, even Facebook to target a group for your interests. Visit your alumni site for resources or events in your area. There really is a meetup for everything, and no matter what you’re looking for, there is a group for you.

Search out events that interest you., even ones that aren’t a perfect fit for your career and might just be for fun. You don’t know who you might meet, so it’s important to be open to possibilities. It’s best to just force yourself to go. Plan out your calendar a week in advance and follow through. I promise—it will eventually become easier.

Give this episode with Jennifer Moon a listen about how to create authentic connections.