Advice for New Graduates: Building and Maintaining a Professional Network

Learning & Development | July 25, 2018

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EBSCO Corporate Solutions has compiled a list of professional networking tips for new graduates, courtesy of corporate learning tool Accel5™.

As a new graduate entering the workforce, it is critical that you begin your career with a network of people invested in your success. Forming these relationships will help you to decide on the type of career you want and create a plan to make your ideas a reality. By working with experienced professionals, you will develop soft skills necessary to thrive in any workplace.

Reaching Out

The first step to creating your professional network is to connect with people who can help you to accomplish your career dreams. As a young graduate, this may require some research. To begin, create a list of potential mentors. Your first step should be looking back on people you’ve already worked with, whether they were your college professor or your manager at an internship. From there, attend any networking opportunities in your field of interest that will help you to expand your list. Finally, utilize the internet and social media (particularly LinkedIn) to find individuals that you admire professionally.

Once you’ve drafted a list of potential network members, you must create a plan for contacting these people. Remember that not everyone has the time or interest to be a great mentor, so don’t take any negative responses (or lack of responses) personally.

In the business book summary for Reach Out, courtesy of EBSCO Corporate Solutions’ Accel5, author Molly Beck offers tips for your initial correspondence. She advises that each “reach out” should include a compliment as well as a “gift.” A gift can include an article or book recommendation, specific and useful knowledge, a publicity opportunity or free advice regarding a beneficial skill you possess. These gifts are useful as people generally feel more compelled to respond when they have been offered something.

By working with experienced professionals, you will develop skills necessary to thrive in any workplace.

Growing Your Network

Expand your further network by identifying additional individuals that can drive your career success. In Accel5’s business book summary for It’s Who You Know, author Janine Garner explains how you can get on the fast track for personal and professional success by strategically developing and expanding your network. To do this, Garner recommends that you seek out 12 people that fall into the following categories:

  • Promoters: These people will cheer you on, inspire you and help you to determine what career moves are right for you given your interests and strengths.
  • Pit Crew: The pit crew invests in your personal and professional life, ensuring that you are maintaining a balanced lifestyle while also taking advantage of opportunities relevant to your goals.
  • Teachers: Those that fall within this category have experience within your field or your role. They will share their knowledge and help you to identify the steps necessary to succeed.
  • Butt-Kickers: These people will give honest advice and will encourage you to take responsibility for yourself.

Nurturing Relationships

It is important to remember that is it the responsibility of the mentee, not the mentor, to create and foster a beneficial relationship. In an exclusive video for Accel5, communications expert Lee Caraher shares a seven-step process for finding a great mentor and creating the ideal mentor-mentee relationship. Her tips include defining what you want out of a mentorship, identifying the right person to ask to be your mentor, approaching the person you've identified with a specific request; respecting your mentors time, being intentional and proactive, protecting your mentor and remembering that your mentor is not your parent.

Once you’ve found a mentor, Caraher recommends that you remember the following:

  • Mentorship relationships are confidential relationships. What happens in that relationship stays in that relationship.
  • Be willing to share your experience so your mentor has a full sense of your situation, even if it's embarrassing.
  • Read what your mentor reads. This will exponentialize your mentorship—you will be able to understand and absorb so much more from them if you have the same reference points that your mentor does
  • Don't expect your mentor to do your work for you, ever.
  • Thank your mentor every time they help you and every time they give you time.

By creating and nurturing professional relationships, you will have a guide that will be invaluable throughout your early career. With these tips, you will find the right people to help you create a plan to succeed in both your personal and professional life.

For more exclusive content on critical soft skills such as mentoring, professional development, and more, request a free trial of EBSCO’s Accel5. This corporate learning tool features business book summaries, videos and articles from top thought leaders that will help all employees learn and thrive – from new graduates to seasoned professionals.  

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