CEO Jenni Luke

Networking is the equivalent of advertising – you need to set a budget and assess how you can place yourself in the most advantageous settings to get the biggest bang for your buck. In lean times like these, when you know you must put yourself out there but are also watching every dollar, think about these five suggestions for high-impact, cost-effective networking.

Reaquainting with Aquaintances

  • Do a ‘walk-thru’ – If you have never visited your contact’s office or have multiple people in the same company  you’d like to see, do a ‘walk-thru’ at the office. This is a strategy that many businesses use to pitch their products, services or clients, so why not use it to pitch yourself? Schedule 15 minutes to visit each person within the office, let him/her know what you are up to, learn what his/her needs are, and leave having reconnected with multiple people on your list without spending a dime.

  • Use ‘free’ events to throw your own networking event –  Have you always wanted to get a group of colleagues together to make introductions but didn’t want to go to the expense of hosting your own cocktail party or get-together? Summer is the perfect time to take advantage of free events for your own personal networking. Go through your list, target those who are in like-industries or are like-minded, and schedule a date to go explore the local art-walk or free concert in the park. Not only are you seen as a connector of people, you are seen as an ‘in the know’ resource for great things happening in your city.
  • Never turn down an invitation – If you’re debating going to the birthday party of that former co-worker who you haven’t seen in a year but always liked, go. When your old business school classmate suggests that you come as her ‘plus one’ to a charity dinner, go. You have the opportunity to reconnect with someone you already know is a valuable contact, and you have the benefit of meeting his/her extended network, too.

Making new connections

  • Get online – Want to have a contact at a particular company? Follow them on twitter and facebook to engage with the brand and learn about upcoming events where you may be able to connect. Look up the company on Linked In and reach out for an informational interview or phone call.  This helps you target the contacts you really need rather than paying a bundle and hoping they attend the latest industry event.
  • Volunteer – The great thing about meeting new people while volunteering is that you are guaranteed to meet people who enjoy helping others, which ultimately is what networking is all about. If that volunteer work also happens to be aligned with your passion for your job, all the better. If you’re in the construction industry, go build homes for Habitat for Humanity. If you do PR or marketing and want to help find a cure for breast cancer, help spread the word of a local Race for the Cure. At Step Up Women’s Network, you can volunteer as a mentor and network at the same time – our programming connects you to the professional women you need and the underserved teen girls who need you. Building your network through volunteering can be incredibly rewarding and lead you to meet people you may never have connected with otherwise.


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