How to Be A Stand-Out Networker in 2024

A Step-By-Step Guide to Networking That Works

We all know that networking is the best way to land a job, especially when the hiring market is competitive. But it can be difficult to know who to reach out to or what to say, whether you’re extremely shy or you’re trying to break into a whole new industry. Plus, 2023 was one of the most competitive years for creatives looking for a new job. That’s why we’ve designed this step-by-step guide on how to be a stand-out networker and keep yourself top of mind in 2024.

Step 1: Research potential contacts

Begin with those who are closest to you and work outward. Research the companies you admire, the outlets you frequent, and the spaces that cater to “your people”. Find out who works for these companies through Linkedin or Instagram, beginning with those who are more junior or mid-level. It’s not a great idea to cold-email the CEO—yet—unless you’re a C-level executive yourself (see why in step 5). It’s much easier, especially for introverts, to begin networking on your level. These people will likely have more in common with you right now and will someday get promoted, perhaps inviting you along for the ride. You never know where people will move to and it’s great to establish a connection early.

Step 2: Open with a real compliment

Each of the people you want to network with is on your list for a reason. Maybe you love the latest magazine they designed or have been entertained by their blog writing. Start your message with the reason they caught your eye and offer a genuine compliment. It’s a great icebreaker, people love hearing about how their work excites others, and you come off as a nice, sociable person from the jump.

Step 3: Introduce yourself (briefly)

Next, introduce yourself in one sentence, telling them who you are and what you do for a living. Location is optional—if you share the same location, you can mention it (see step 4). If not, it’s okay to leave off. If you can mention past clients, do it! It may offer another gateway of conversation in their response. Any additional information, like your portfolio, website, or social links, can be a part of your signature at the bottom.

Step 4: Share what you have in common

Now comes the time to make the connection. If you both have shared connections, mention it. If you are both working in the same industries or have done similar projects, bring it up. Anything that ties the two of you together in a business, network, or interest capacity, point out your commonalities. Your common ground will be the foundation of your partnership (if they decide to respond) and it helps them know what to talk about in their response.

Step 5: State what you want & can provide

Finally, get to the reason why you’re reaching out. Do you need something from them, like advice, a mentorship, a collaborator on a project, or are they someone you’d like to hire? Whatever your needs are, be sure to follow it directly with what you’ll offer them in return, whether it’s payment, advice in your field, or a coffee—you get it. Just be sure the offering fits what you’re asking of them. Examples include: offering to take someone out to lunch in exchange for advice, offering to trade your copy work for their design work on one another’s websites, or asking if they would like to be a paid contributor to your media outlet.

And, repeat!

Now comes the meh news: not everyone will respond—but that’s okay! It’s fine to set a reminder to follow up in a week or two to make sure they saw your message. But after a follow-up, it’s best to move on and respect their boundaries. They may get back to you someday. Hopefully, other people have responded at this point, but if not, you now know how to begin again.

Bonus Tip: Return to in-person events

Emails get lost. Chats go unanswered. Networking in person, either virtually or in person, can drastically transform your success. Sites like Meetup, Alignable, and Linkedin can connect you with virtual and in-person networking events in your area. When people can meet you, and learn your name, face, and smile, you make an imprint that surpasses the written word.

If you’re looking to talk to recruiters, why not start with ours? We place top-notch creatives like yourself with clients across the U.S. 

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