3 things I learned about networking after 250 coffee meetings

Many people avoid networking, viewing the practice as boring, difficult, or even somewhat unethical.

But there are moments in your career when you need a network of supporters, Robbie Abed writes for Inc. He shares that he faced one of those times when he quit his job, changed careers, and moved to a new city. Feeling "lost" and lonely, Abed went on a networking spree, going to 250 coffee meetings in just 400 days. By the end, he had a community to support him through his professional growth.

After a year's worth of relationship building, Abed identifies three lessons he learned over all that coffee.

1: Start with the "super connectors." Identify the leaders in your field or local community and invite them to a meeting. It's likely that these leaders know many of the other people you need to meet and can help you quickly grow your network. Because they're so well-connected, these leaders become a good foundation for the rest of your networking efforts, Abed writes.

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2: Offer to help. The best way to convince people to take meetings with you—even busy super connectors—is to tell them what they'll get out of it. "The more other-centered and mutual you can be with the request, the higher the probability that your investment time will yield a benefit," says Deborah Knupp, managing editor at Growthplay. It also never hurts to compliment the person or name-drop a mutual acquaintance, Abed writes.

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3: Show respect. Take the meeting seriously and go out of your way to demonstrate that you're trustworthy and conscientious, Abed writes. Come prepared with intelligent questions, end the meeting on time, and be sure to pay for the person's coffee (Abed, Inc., 8/24).    

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