The benefits of networking are well documented: it creates avenues for new opportunities, allows for trading information, and serves as an avenue to create long-term relationships with mutual benefits. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that most of us cringe at the thought of it – and in a virtual world, it can feel even more difficult to get started.
Networking involves putting yourself out there and interacting with people you do not know, and often involves asking for a favor – something that makes us all feel vulnerable. However, research shows that it is actually a GOOD idea to ask people for favors: psychologists have found that after someone does you a favor, they actually like you more as a result.
Networking is like any other skill: though it may feel awkward at first, the more you practice it, the better you’ll get at it, and the more confident you will feel doing it. Whether you’re looking for a mentor, a new job, life advice, or suggestions on how to do better in your job, networking can help you get there.
How to find the the right connections on LinkedIn
If we create networks with the sole intention of getting something, we won’t succeed. We can’t pursue the benefits of networks; the benefits ensue from investments in meaningful activities and relationships. Adam Grant, Author of Give and Take
While there are many great ways to network (see step #9 in our career-growth guide), this post is going to focus on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is one of the most powerful tools to grow your professional network because you can see who the people you already know are connected to. The people you already know and are connected with directly are your first-degree connections, and the people that they are connected to are second-degree connections.
This ability to find second-degree connections through connections you have in common is tremendously valuable. According to psychologist and author Adam Grant, these second degree connections can be as powerful as your most trusted friend (and more likely to give you a fresh perspective, rather than redundant information).
In our MovingWorlds Institute Global Fellowship program, we place a big emphasis on networking, and many of our Fellows amass hundreds of new connections over the course of the program. How? By looking at the friends of their friends and the colleagues of their colleagues, and then asking their trusted first degree connections to make the connection.
To look at potential mutual connections you would like to be introduced to, search keywords related to the roles or industries you’re interested in and filter by second-degree, as shown below:
Email template for virtual networking
So, once you’ve identified a second degree connection that you want to be introduced to, how do you make the ask? Below is an email template to help take the guesswork out of asking for introductions to expand your network:
Looking for additional support building your network in the social impact space? Apply to our next MovingWorlds Institute Global Fellowship cohort!