Start with Networking or Don’t Start At All

networking

Women’s Network Club started with networking – this is how I met our first speaker and since then I have been leveraging networking for different purposes. I meet with young professionals and graduate students who seek a career in digital marketing and share my experience and encourage women to join the tech industry. I also like to connect with women on topics like women empowerment and equality. When I network I try to make our connection purposeful and always share useful links, book recommendations, upcoming events, and more. What I have noticed, people would do the same in return. Since I started my own business and Lead with Heart, networking has taken a whole new meaning to me. In this article, I am going to share my top three platforms for networking.

  1. Shapr – Tinder for Professional Networking

Shapr is the Tinder for professional networking, wherein users swipe right or left to signal the matches they are interested in meeting or having a cal with. A free account gives 10 – 15 suggestions each day with an option to upgrade to 50. When you set your profile, make sure it  is complete with the following information:

  • Interests (could be hobbies, skills or passions – up to 12 items)
  • Bio (this is a great place to give more details on what brought you to this platform and what you do)
  • What you are looking for (e.g. mentorship, new connections, collaboration, etc);
  • Favourite ways to meet (coffee, lunch, call)
  • Industry, work history, education (similar to profile settings on LinkedIn)
  • Links (links to your social accounts and website)

When you find a match, don’t be shy and start the conversation first! You will find some suggested phrases, but I would highly recommend coming up with two to three very nice introductory phrases that you can keep in phone’s Notes and paste when needed.

Aim for a phone call, coffee meeting, or LinkedIn connection. You will find that not everyone who is a match will reply back. Send a follow up message as a second attempt to reach out; if you receive no response, click Unmatch and move on.

  1. 10 Thousand Coffees – Powered by Coffee

10K Coffees is by far my favourite platform. Since I’m a member of Lean In Canada, I also have access to their hub on the platform. Through 10K Coffees I met club speakers, an awesome digital marketing fellow who is now my colleague, and my sponsor and mentor who introduced me to social marketing. On this platform users receive coffee introductions based on interests and goals but also can send direct messages to other hub members. My tips:

  • Be proactive if you are looking for new connections (if you find someone you want to connect, send a message via the platform or on LinkedIn)
  • Same advice for 10K Coffees – make sure your profile is complete
  1. LinkedIn – Must Have for Professionals!

Regardless of what stage you are at in your life, having your LinkedIn profile up-do-date and being active on the platform is a must! This is the best platform to make acquaintance with people across industries and share your expertise. Even if you are happy in your career at this particular moment and have no plans to leave your job, think strategically and book time to network because in our world where job security no longer exists we should run our careers differently!

The below passage from a Forbes article, Job Security Is Disappearing — What Does It Mean For You?, sums up perfectly why you need to take responsibility for your career.

“You have to keep your network alive and active. The worst thing you can do is to fall asleep on your career. We fall asleep very easily when we find a stable job. These days, you have to know a lot of people who know what you do and who can be eyes and ears for you when you need work.”

  • Don’t be shy and share your wins or things you are passionate about – industry news, local events, tips, ask questions! Use pictures to add a human touch to your posts
  • Leverage LinkedIn Pulse and Groups to write and curate blog posts
  • Send a thank-you note to speakers you like
  • Connect with recruiters so you can be the eyes and ears if not for you but for friends and family

PS: This was originally planned to be my first episode of Lead with Heart! So stay tuned!

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