Being told to build connections for your career might remind you of everyone telling you, “it’s who you know”, a saying that many roll their eyes at. They’re not wrong, but there’s more to it than simply, “knowing people.” Instead, think of your professional relationships as something more meaningful than simply getting your next job.
Your mind might go to those networking events you dreaded going to — only to leave you unsatisfied with how it went. Maybe you didn’t meet the right people or create the connections you were looking for. In 2020, there are so many ways to build unique relationships that provide tangible career value.
Let’s go through the where, why, and how of relationship building and dive into why you shouldn’t underestimate the connections you make. While LinkedIn is a great place to make connections, let’s focus on three other platforms where you can creatively build your network.
1. Where: Instagram
Think: Connecting with people that work for brands you love, micro-influencers, and everyday people that you resonate with and relate to.
How: Building relationships on Instagram requires more than a follow and a couple of likes. It requires actively sending messages, connecting on certain topics, and building a relationship over time. Sharing a person’s work/projects/posts with your own followers is also a great way to start connecting as well. The relationship might not form instantly, but can evolve over time. It’s important to remember that it’s also a two-way street – you should be looking to help, support, or give advice where you can.
Why: Instagram relationships are not only fun, but they can also bring up work opportunities that aren’t available on LinkedIn, or expose you to personal development events/workshops that may not show up elsewhere. The possibilities are endless — maybe you’ll work on a project with someone, start a business together, share new brands to follow, give each other advice, or help each other find job opportunities. Maybe it will only be a friendship for now, but there’s value in that too.
Real Life Example: I’m a big fan Jillian Harris, and I noticed a girl always commenting on her posts, so I looked at her Instagram feed. I decided to message her, interact with her Instagram stories, and talk about much I loved her page – and Jillian’s. Since, we’ve had great conversations about what we do, our goals, and now we’ve even discussed collaborating on graphic design projects. Get creative with how you connect on Instagram – you never know where your connections will lead, even if they start out casually.
2. Where: Facebook Groups
Think: Facebook groups that are specific to your industry, like other freelancers, creatives, etc. These groups could be specific to your geographical location too (for example “Women who Freelance Toronto.” Groups that are more lifestyle-related such as “The Birds Papaya Insider Squad” may also provide opportunities to share your latest wins, projects, and more about your goals. This could lead to unique opportunities to work with others, build your personal brand, get a different perspective from other people working in your industry, and expose yourself to new people. For example, putting yourself out there and writing a post writing about wanting work in the design industry might lead to someone commenting, “I’d love to chat!” or “My friend’s company is hiring!”
How: There are a few ways to find these groups — ask your friends, colleagues, and connections if they’re in any groups they find valuable. Additionally, search keywords on Facebook such as “freelancing,” “marketing,” “fashion,” etc. Sometimes your favorite business coaches/influencers will even have groups. In these groups, make sure to engage with others, introduce yourself and what you do, and share what you have to offer. If there are people you want to connect with further, send them a message and follow them on other platforms.
Why: These groups can be useful in a lot of ways, whether it be getting advice on something you need help with, helping you find gigs or job opportunities, providing creative outlets, or getting inspired by the people in the group. It all depends on the types of groups that you join and how you can strategically use them.
Real Life Example: In the “Women Who Freelance Toronto” group, there are always new posts for business owners looking for virtual assistants, graphic designers, social media experts, etc. A quick search can bring a ton of potential to your professional goals or lead to a new job.
3. Where: Virtual Conferences/Workshops/Courses
With so many in-person events getting canceled this year, the world has turned to digital platforms for conferences and workshops, and we’ve seen a rise in online courses. Not only are these a good way to learn, but there are also so many people you can connect with around the country who are enrolled in the same courses.
Think: Conferences, courses, and workshops that are of interest to you, related to your field, or ones that you know will lead to forming connections. Maybe you want to get better at writing, public speaking, showing up on social media, or photography – there is something for everyone.
How: First, look to social media for influencers, business owners, companies (such as Later Media) who post about upcoming events/workshops. These opportunities are coming up all the time, and they’re a great way to learn from the pros. A great one to keep an eye out for is Gem Conference. In the Gem Conference, you’ll hear from a variety of experts on things like photography, copywriting, email marketing, building a personal brand, and more – an excellent way to build on your skills!
When you “attend” a virtual conference, be sure to use the chat features to introduce yourself, drop your social handles, and support others when you can too. Share details about your personal brand, your business, or the opportunities you’re looking for — there are almost always others who will want to connect for one of those reasons. Be sure to take note of other’s names & handles and why you want to connect with them later.
Why: These conferences and workshops are just more opportunities to meet people that hold similar interests that you may not find on Instagram. The more people you put yourself out to, the more possibilities exist for new opportunities and new relationships that can help you along your career journey.
Real Life Example: I attended LaterCon which largely focused on social media and influencer marketing. My main takeaways from the conference were around how important storytelling and building community are for brands, and how to do that. Moving forward, I know these lessons will play a huge role in what I bring to the table in terms of expertise. Because of the knowledge I’ve learned about engaging with an audience on social media, I was recently able to secure a contract specifically related to community management (this opportunity also came from an Instagram relationship!)
Remember: Think about that dream job you want and know that the right relationships can get you there. If you don’t have anything specific in mind, understand these relationships inspire you and give you new ideas for your career. Focus on building genuine and authentic relationships and understand that they will all serve different purposes at different points in time in your career. Your life – and career as a whole – is a journey, and there are some incredible humans waiting to go through it with you!
Looking for more ways to make connections and find your dream job? Book a Virtual Career Meeting with Style Nine to Five’s Founder, Christie Lohr. These meetings are a great opportunity to discuss your career goals and the best next steps to get you there!
Feature Image: Adobe Stock
By Jenna Yeomans – Jenna is a marketing grad based in Hamilton, ON with a passion for storytelling, creativity and supporting small businesses.