It’s not what you know. It’s who you know. For the many professionals looking to move up in their careers, this old saying is still applicable today. Connecting with other professionals is a great way to get noticed and build a positive reputation in your industry.

Having a good relationship with the right person can mean the difference between being considered for a promotion and being overlooked for someone else. Networking with other people is important, even if you’re planning a career change. You never know who in your circle can connect you to the right person to help you get your foot in the door at your dream company.

Many people find themselves feeling awkward or out of place while networking. Even the most outgoing individuals can have a hard time working a room full of professionals. For many people, networking is easier said than done.

Networking 101

When connecting with other professionals, it’s important to relax and be yourself. Smile and be friendly when you communicate with others. This helps others feel more comfortable and positions you as a positive person to be around. And if time permits, make your way around the room to meet as many people as possible. The more connections you make, the better.

When networking outside of the office, come prepared with business cards to hand to other professionals. Demonstrating a take-charge attitude and enthusiasm about your job are useful traits that many employers look for.

When you want to scale your career, networking is the way to go. Here are seven tips for how to network at work and outside of the office, too:

Celebrate At Office Parties

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Birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions are a cause for celebration for many companies. Some companies even make them mandatory to attend. While these parties can cut into your work time, you can still be productive while you party.

Employers host office celebrations as a way to create a positive company culture. And for many employers, being part of the company culture is as important as the work itself.

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When attending an office party, be on time and ready to celebrate. Grab a refreshment and work your way around the room. This way, you can form new connections and have your attendance accounted for before returning to your desk.

Volunteering to help organize office parties is another great way to network. Often, the employees in charge of planning are also close to important people in the office. Showing that you’re a reliable team player helps position you as a valuable employee.

Cozy Up To Your Coworkers

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One of the easiest ways to network is by starting with your built-in team of coworkers. Forming a healthy, positive relationship with coworkers can help you do your job well. They may also provide insights about the job you didn’t know about or put in a good word for you for a job opening.

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In addition, if you’re looking to be promoted to a managerial position, employers tend to hire friendly employees who get along well with others for the job.

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You can ask one of your coworkers out to happy hour to get to know them better or suggest a team lunch to your boss. You can also bring in coffee or donuts every once in a while to build a sense of camaraderie among team members.

Mingle At Industry Events

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If you’re really serious about your career, it may be good to do some networking outside the office. Many organizations host networking events for professionals in different industries. They often include guest speakers, Q and A’s with industry experts, and booths with useful career-related information. These events are often helpful for those who want to form connections with people in high places, so don’t forget to bring your business card.

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Some industry events charge an admission fee, but many are free to attend. Often, these events turn into casual gatherings where people can have drinks and small appetizers as they mix and mingle. If you decide to drink, be careful not to overdo it. You may not present yourself in the best light if you’re too intoxicated. Instead, stick to one or two drinks to loosen up and make your way around the venue.

Show Up On Zoom

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One of the perks of working from home is that you can lounge around in your pajamas and still be productive in your job. However, there may be times when your boss requests a video call to meet with you and the team. When that happens, it’s always a good idea to show up.

The great thing about video calls is that you can get brownie points for attending a meeting without having to show your face. But if you want to move up in your career, turning your camera on is an excellent way to show that you’re prepared to work.

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It also helps to put a face to your name. This is especially true for employees who haven’t met their coworkers in person due to a fully remote schedule. While you don’t have to dress up for the call, simply smiling and nodding along can demonstrate to others that you’re friendly and enthusiastic about the job. This can make you seem more approachable and help you form relationships with other employees more easily.

Attend Company Events

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If your employer hosts off-site work events such as company conferences or dinners, it’s always a good idea to say “yes” to that calendar invite.

One of the last things you probably want to do when you’re not working is spend more time with your boss and coworkers. But attending company-wide events presents a great opportunity for you to meet people who can help you move up in the company.

Going to a company event may sound like a nightmare if you’re shy or introverted, but it doesn’t have to be. You can ask a coworker to carpool with you to ease your nervousness and get to know them more during the ride.

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You may also be tempted to show up late to avoid being seen. But most employers consider late attendance unprofessional. It may also be more overwhelming to show up to a room full of people who have already gotten to know each other. Instead, try showing up early. That way, you’ll feel more comfortable watching people slowly trickle in rather than seeing everyone all at once. You even can offer to help set up as a way to network with other employees and ease your nerves.

Be Present At Work Meetings

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A big part of networking is showing up. But that doesn’t just mean attending office birthday parties and other fun celebrations. It’s important to show up to the not-so-fun work meetings as well.

Work meetings can feel boring, especially on a Monday morning. And unless they’re mandatory, most employees would rather not attend. However, even though some of the information presented at work meetings can seem unimportant, there is always something to learn.

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Try to attend all work meetings with a pen and notepad, ready to jot down some notes. Be friendly and start a conversation with the other attendees to form connections. And don’t be shy to chat it up with a higher-up. They will likely be impressed by your confidence and willingness to take charge. Employers tend to favor those who are enthusiastic about their jobs, so showing up to scheduled meetings is always a good look.

Join A group

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There are many groups to join outside of work if you want to meet like-minded professionals in your industry. Online platforms like Meetup are host to a number of events where people can connect with others in their area. You can filter your search based on your interests, including groups for Black professionals, groups for young or older professionals, or groups for professional women.

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The great thing about these events is that you can connect with others on a professional and personal level. In addition, they’re often meant to be fun, so you’ll likely see plenty of groups doing fun activities, from meetups at rooftop bars to trips to sporting events.

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