by Megan Towle

Every business professional knows that lasting business relationships are necessary for success in the business world. As the saying goes, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Networking is a crucial step in forming these relationships that will help you move ahead career wise. For those of us that might be a little shy or are unsure of how to network successfully, here are a few simple tips that will make you the best networker around!


  1. Smile – It sounds like common sense, but so many people forget the importance of a good old-fashioned smile. Making eye contact, flashing those pearly whites and a cheery “Good Morning” can go a long way! People are more likely to trust those with a positive demeanor, not to mention you seem much more approachable. So keep smiling and you will be blown away by the response you get.
  2. Ask Questions – It can be intimidating to jump into a conversation and have an opinion right away, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Not only does it make people think that you are genuinely interested in the conversation, but you can get a lot of information that can help you decide who will be the most beneficial people to add to your list of contacts.
  3. Use Names – While talking to people, use their name. It makes your conversation more personal and it shows the person you are speaking to that you remember who they are and that your conversation was important to you. People love the sound of their own name, so if nothing else, it will help you win over people who might otherwise not have been too interested in what you had to say.
  4. Bring business cards – This is another common sense networking piece of advice, but definitely worth mentioning. Business cards are the most efficient way to exchange information, and make it easier to get in contact afterwards. (Don’t have a business card? Don’t worry. Think about creating your own.)
  5. Follow up! – This is crucial in creating long-lasting business relationships. This shows that you are trustworthy, organized, and value the time that you spent talking with the other person. If you say that you will send them a referral of someone that might help them, make sure you actually DO IT! This creates another level in your relationship, and they will be more likely to help you if you ever need a favor.


Remember, every person you meet is potentially a valuable contact. Even though they may not be a direct connection for you, they may be able to refer you to someone who is! 


Now that you know how to network, here are some resources to find a summer job. 


(This article was originally posted on Eagan Patch on April 19, 2012.)


Megan Towle is an intern with the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce.


2 thoughts on “An Introduction to Networking

  1. Hi Geri,
    Thanks for your question!  Small talk is often difficult, especially in networking situations. You want to stick to a neutral topic that you will both (hopefully) have an interest in discussing. I find an icebreaker question works. My family jokes that I often ask everyone I first meet "what do you do?"  You can modify that to "how did you get into this career field? or "when did you start working for this company or organization?" or "what do you like best about your job?"  Here are a few tips on networking small talk that I think are good, especially the last one: exiting thoughtfully.
    Best wishes to you,
    Rachel Vilsack


  2. Megan,
    Thank you for the tips !!! People find it hard to believe that am uncomfortable when networking…why, because I am very outgoing and have been in upper management for close to 15 years.  I am not sure why i have such a hard time with small talk…any tips on how to make small talk? Just moving into the Minneapolis area my lack of networking skills is really working against me.  Thanks


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