How to Network Effectively

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(Source: #Approtegy podcast –



Are networks really essential?

If you feel that at this stage in your life and career, you have not yet experienced the impact your network has on you; or the impact that you had hoped to have had on others, it might be a good idea to explore what effective networking is.

Mia Negru, Ivan T. Petrov and Petek Jinkins from JCI Copenhagen International discuss the 4 Essential Tools of Effective Networking as they share their own practical experiences of building networks as expats in Denmark.

The 4 Tools will empower you as you explore different approaches to re-wiring new relationships and facilitate your own network re-building strategy.


Effective networking is about knowing what you want out of a network and why you are building relationships.

Despite the common misconceptions of natural talent, spontaneity and good luck, there are no natural requirements in effective networking: everything from being in the right place to making good conversation, takes time and practice.

“networking is not a talent; nor does it require a gregarious, extroverted personality. It is a skill, one that takes practice.” –Herminia Ibarra & Mark Lee Hunter, HBR

Effective networking is about the two fundamental skills of openness/exploration and good planning. Through exploration, we can identify our social skill and knowledge gaps; and through planning, we can target and define our social circles – where and who we want to mingle with.

 STEP#1: Explore Different Venues and Groups

What you set out do with networking is entirely personal and determined by your individual needs at the time. In the podcast, our speakers share their individual experiences and differences to shed light on the variety of motives and approaches. Yet, all three agree on the importance of trying new and different networks by going to different events.

Exploring places and people is a good starting point to learn about building a network. It is also the first and the hardest stage of networking effectively –because you have to go out of your comfort zone and your specialization in order to explore.

The most important advantage of exploring different networks is getting exposed to new ideas. Research shows that, over time, most people withdraw into smaller, less diverse groups of like-minded people: either by professional choice or for personal comfort. The further you go toward an open network with members in different professions with different social connections, the more you are exposed to new ideas that help you grow as a person and at a professional level.

STEP#2: Prepare Your Pitch and Questions Beforehand

Regardless of how you approach networking, your success will be directly tied to your ability to interact with people. To make the most of events that you attend, reflect on your needs based on the different venues and social circles you have explored. Set goals that are both short-term (what you want to achieve at your networking event) and long-term (what you want to achieve generally). Find a way to clearly communicate those goals to others during your conversations.

The only way to connect with people around your interests is to practice personal pitch that is short but crisp and makes sense within the context of the event you are attending. Mia Negru, who has worked with many entrepreneurs in her workshops, says that a pitch can especially help those who identify as introverts become more confident.

If one of your goals is to get noticed while also finding value from others for your purpose and projects, also try to connect with as many people as possible. Mia suggests that, someone whose profile and interests seem distant now may end up being completely aligned with you at another time in the future.

Last but not the least, your preparation should include a quick glance at the event program, a list of attendees (when available) and general information about the location.

STEP#3: Interact Strategically at the Event

Once you have explored a variety of activities, groups and connected with a few people; feel free to reach out to one or a few to accompany you at the next occasion. Ivan Petrov, who is now an expert networker, says he has struggled with mingling at large events in the past: “If possible find a buddy to go with.”

Connecting with individuals should not be so difficult, considering that people go to event to meet others. Petek Jinkins, however, has developed a keen eye for those who are more experienced than others in making good conversations. She has used a number of approaches to network effectively including: approaching conference speakers first, identifying organizers and asking them questions, asking for tips or offering comments at the coffee line.

Some of these approaches require holding back and observing others. Mia adds that, simply listening to what others have to say is also a great way to network.

STEP#4: Follow-up on Your Conversations

Lastly, the first 3 Steps alone will not make networking effective, if you fail to stay in touch with those you have met.
You have explored available networks, people, types of events (Step#1), and prepared yourself in the best way possible by getting clear on your goals and how to communicate them (Step#2), you showed up at the event with maybe another friend and approached a few new people with questions and listened to their stories (Step#3) and now you decide with who and how to stay in touch. Business cards are not completely out-of- date; however, they get lost in back pockets and purses.

Business cards are not completely out-of-date; however, they get lost in back pockets and purses. If possible, our podcast’s consultants recommend taking out your smartphone and asking that new contact you have just met if you can add them on Linkedin (professional) or Facebook (personal/volunteer). Linkedin allows you to include a personal message, which is a nice way to remind them the context in which you have met each other. Never be shy about asking your new contacts for a follow-up coffee meeting –and be creative in making time to see them again at other events of common interest.

Remember, if we let our relationships develop spontaneously, we will always end up in a network made up of people that are exactly like us. Left to our own efforts, our networks are simply our close friends. So always make time to explore new contexts, to prepare before joining a new group, to stay focused on what you want to learn and communicate, and keep the relationships alive by reaching out.