The time has finally come – you are out of class and working full-time. While this an exciting venture in your career, there are new challenges that you may face. One of these challenges is networking.

As you interact less with your former classmates, it can be difficult to maintain professional relationships and build new ones. But rest assured – here are six helpful hints for staying active in the community and continuing to network as a professional.

1. Contact Former Classmates and Co-workers

As you start to build your career as a professional, your interactions with former classmates, externs, interns, and supervisors often decreases. A quick solution for this can be simply to keep in touch.

Staying connected with peers and supervisors is always beneficial for job recommendations and references, but it can be just as useful to increase your connections. You can contact former classmates and co-workers and provide updates about your work and ask to hear about them too.

Plus, if you are early in your career, a supervision group can be a great way to regularly stay connected with former classmates and co-workers – especially with early career professionals in the same boat as you! You can discuss cases, provide support, and address common concerns we face early in our careers.

2. Join a Listserv

A Listserv is a great way to connect to the masses without the expense of a conference. There are many Listserv’s out there that you can look into – whether it’s through your school, such as an alumni Listserv, or through a larger organization like the American Psychological Association. It can be a great resource for referrals, recommendations for patients, and more.

If you’re having difficulty finding one that matches your needs, you can always create your own Listserv. It can be a general Listserv or even something more specific that is geared toward your interests. Feel free to invite others to stay connected and expand your network.

3. Join Organizations and Attend Conferences…

Joining organizations and attending conferences are often a great way to meet people in your field. You can choose to join a variety of organizations – from larger, international ones that focus on a general topic to smaller, local groups that hold meetings closer to where you live. And as always, if you find that there are no local groups or organizations that interest you – create one!

If you choose to join a larger, international organization, check out smaller groups within the organization that focus on specific topics. By doing so, you can interact with a smaller group of people who have similar interests.

4. …And While at Conferences, be Courageous!

Conferences are a great way to network – if you interact with others, that is!

It can be difficult to make the first move, but remember that everyone else is there to learn and interact too (and they are also just as nervous!). It can be helpful to come prepared – such as having business cards on you or even writing up and practicing a short script of how you might describe yourself, your work, or your interests.

Another great way to make networking easier at conferences is to research conference events beforehand and plan to attend social gatherings, such as a welcome dinner.

5. Follow-up

After any event where you have met someone with whom you would like to stay connected, following up is a critical step in the networking process.

At the event, be sure to exchange contact information or business cards.

When following up, feel free to be concise and reflect back on something from your interaction (e.g., “It was great to meet you at ‘Psychology Conference’ last weekend. I hope you and your family enjoy the baseball game next weekend!”). You can also stay connected through social media websites, such as LinkedIn.

6. Use Social Media (Wisely!)

Social media can provide a great opportunity for networking, and your options are endless!

You can casually post comments or share links or articles on websites like Facebook or Twitter, which can help to update your family, friends, and close co-workers about your current interests. If you have more time, you can write and post your own article on websites like LinkedIn or even create your own website and/or blog.

But of course, remember to use social media wisely! It can be a good idea to make sure your personal profiles are private, while creating a public professional profile to help expand your professional network.

Photo by Kathleen Tyler Conklin

Michelle Kahan
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