Career Tip

How to network better

Whether you're a fresh graduate, an aspiring entrepreneur, or a professional looking to expand your horizons, effective networking can open doors to new opportunities, foster meaningful connections, and accelerate your professional journey. Not been actively networking before? We got you covered!

Business developer Anna Höglund
In collab with Intunio AB

In today's fast-paced and interconnected world, networking has become an essential skill for success in any industry, particularly in the ever-evolving tech landscape. We met Anna Höglund when she hosted a company meetup with our students, and we all fell in love - she was a true natural when it came to networking. Anna works as a business developer and former recruiter and has over 12 years of experience in creating meaningful connections between people and industries. We invited her to host a webinar about how to create organic networking, and in this article, we have boiled down her top 5 tips for you.

1. Open the space

Today, society is very competitive and the focus tends to be on what one should accomplish and what one is able to do - instead of what’s true to ourselves. We have forgotten to ask ourselves “Why am I doing this?” instead of running fast in one direction, try to lean back and listen instead to Anna’s advice:

“When I moved to Gothenburg without knowing anyone, three weeks before my studies started, my only focus was to belong and fit in - I felt driven by my fears. Compare it to when I moved to Barcelona eight years after without a plan or a job. My mindset was totally different and my intention was to find people that resonated with me.”

This example can be compared to you when applying for jobs, especially in a new place, culture, or even with a new language - it can feel challenging and you just want to fit in. Leave the fears aside and focus instead on finding mutual relationships and genuine exchanges.

2. Don't try to sell yourself

Over to some really practical and hands-on tips when it comes to connecting with new people, especially online. Take a look at these two emails, which one would you choose?

Hopefully, you chose the longer and more personal e-mail! This is about mutuality - don’t throw things to a person without any information, be personal and give more value to your send-outs. Why do you want to get in contact with this person? How did you find them? Don’t just sell yourself. And hey, it doesn't always have to be wanting something from the other person, more than simply reaching out and connecting. Start from somewhere and open the space! A good email always starts with some kind of hook and value.

3. Ask - and listen

The best way to connect is to ask someone questions and be curious. They are the magic tool and key to opening the space between you and something or someone new. Learn more about others - be curious about their needs, which gives you better possibilities to meet them where they’re at. The more you ask questions, the better you become at it. We tend to ask questions that are expected from us, instead of asking about what we genuinely what to know. Don’t ask about the job right away - listen, ask questions, and deepen your relationship first.

4. Perspective is key

Get out of your bubble! Hang around with people and be in an environment that you’re not used to. The more your challenge yourself, and visit places and cultures, the more perspective you get. The more you stay in your bubble, the less perspective and references you gather. If you get stuck - shake things up! Anna can’t emphasise the importance of reaching out to people that are not in our area enough. Don’t be comfortable, expand your network and perspectives in order to connect better.

5. Be clear about your intention

If your intention is to land a job where you fit, a job where you get to be you, then have that intention in mind when reaching out - don’t get stuck on “I have to find a job.” To have a set intention is knowing what we search for above the clear fact that yes, you are looking for a job, but what else? Switch your perspective to “I’m not gonna make it,” and create a goal for yourself and divide these goals into smaller steps. Let’s say you’d like to live and work abroad, one step could be to join a Facebook group with job postings in that specific city. Or get a “yes” from your boss that working remotely is approved.

Be honest about your intentions and not what others might think because you say them out loud. You might find yourself in an office space that you absolutely adore, what would happen if you speak your mind and say: ”I can see myself in this office.” That intention might be your reality sooner rather than later.

But hey, wait a second..

How can I connect find common ground with people outside of my own bubble/industry/expertise?

Ask questions; what would you like to know, genuinely, about this person/industry? Ask open-ended questions, listen to the answers, and try to trickle the conversation down to even more specific questions. Like: “Would you mind explaining your field of work to me?” Ask and see what happens.

I’m introvert and struggle to network onsite, how do I do?

Consider attending events with a trusted companion who can provide support and guidance. It's helpful to team up with someone who excels at networking and can complement your skills. Remember, networking doesn't have to be confined to in-person interactions; leverage online platforms to connect with others in a way that feels more comfortable and secure for you.

When attending an on-site event alone, try to find one person to connect with. That’s enough! Approach them politely and ask if you can join their conversation or stand alongside them. Depending on the atmosphere, you might try to be open about your discomfort and express your feelings. Being vulnerable can foster empathy and understanding in the right setting. The more you practice vulnerability, the more you’ll know when that’s the way to go (and when it's not!).

Furthermore, focus on asking genuine questions that you genuinely care about and would like answers to. This approach helps create meaningful conversations and establishes a connection based on mutual interests.

What are your tips on connecting on LinkedIn?

Make sure to always personalise your connect messages to the people you're reaching out to. Mention how you came across them, if you share a common connection or if they’ve inspired you in any way. And always remember to express gratitude for their time and attention.

When writing messages; stop trying to make it perfect, make it personal and as short and concise as possible. Don’t see it as a failure if people don’t answer, sometimes there's just no time or something got in the way.

What can I do about awkward silences?

The answer to this question of course depends on the situation at hand. It’s always helpful to try to read the crowd, and then ask a question you’re genuinely interested in. For example, inquiring about the other attendees' motivations for being there, utilising humor or a sincere compliment to create a lighter atmosphere.

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