How to Build Your Network — and Maintain It

how to build your network -- our best professional networking tipsThis is kind of an abstract post, so I’ll ask some questions up front for you to think about as you read over it — what are your best professional networking tips, particularly regarding how to build your network, and then how to maintain a network? Which networks, associations and affiliations have been the most fruitful and the most enjoyable for you? Have you seen a lot of overlap and “lucky coincidences” between your various networks, associations and affiliations? 

I’ve been thinking about different business relationships you have to cultivate over the course of your career, from people in your network to mentors to sponsors and beyond. When I was younger, if you had asked me about “how to build your network,” I might have defined it as very self-focused. You choose who you want to bring into your orbit and keep them there — people who are handpicked for knowledge or skill or experience as it relates to you.

This version of “how to network” might be represented visually like this:

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Tips and Tricks for Holiday Networking

holiday networking2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on holiday networking, but you may also want to check out all of our posts on holiday business etiquette.

Here’s today’s question: what are your thoughts about holiday networking? What kind of events (whether through your office, professional organizations, alumni connections, or even friends’ parties) do you think are the best for holiday networking — and what are your best tips for having a successful networking experience at a holiday party? Perhaps importantly in 2017: What are the boundaries of networking these days — do you avoid politics, for example? (A related Q: do you think networking at parties is ever crass? For example — you go to your mother-in-law’s party and groan when, say, a trusts and estates attorney starts hammering in how you need a will and should really call him! How’s Tuesday for a call?)

Some general tips on holidays and networking:holiday networking tips for women lawyers

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What to Wear to a Business Cocktail Party

what to wear to a business cocktail party2018 Update: We still stand by this advice on what to wear to a business cocktail party, and links have been updated below. If it’s summertime, you may want to check out our advice on summer work events — if it’s wintertime, you may want to check out some of our posts on holiday business etiquette.

Reader C wrote in with an interesting question about what to wear to a business cocktail party, and it has definitely been ages since we talked about business cocktail party attire! (Here’s our last discussion what to wear to summer cocktail parties from many, MANY moons ago.) Here’s her question:

I am due to start on a graduate programme for a large energy multinational. I have a 3 day induction in London, and I am informed that on two of the evenings there will be dinner and cocktails.

What should I wear? Scared of going over the top, but also don’t want to play it safe with jeans and a ‘nice top’.

Interesting! We sort of talked about this years ago when we answered a reader question about what to wear to an interview dinner, but that was a bit different because she was meeting them for dinner, not working all day and then going to dinner. Similarly, we’ve discussed the best networking dinner attire, as well as what to wear to a dinner reception and interview — but it’s been a while.

Here’s my thing: if you’re going straight from the induction activities to dinner, then you should wear basically the same thing you wore all day, unless you’re told specifically to wear something else. Take some time to freshen up your makeup to go from desk to dinner, and perhaps reconsider a portion of your outfit (remove the blazer, switch to different shoes for standing-around purposes, add a cocktail ring so it’s an easy conversation starter while holding your drink, etc). Ultimately I think people will remember your energy and attitude at these things far more than your outfit — so do what you have to do to look awake and alive and feel fresh enough to meet a zillion new people and express excitement for working on their projects. (For me this becomes a mix of “put on Touche Éclat and a highlighter like Haloscope or High Beam while listening to a crazy upbeat, silly song like Rock Me Amadeus” — but for you this may look different. Some of my favorite makeup products for faking a good night’s sleep may be helpful here.)

Readers, what’s your advice — what would you wear to a business cocktail party under these circumstances? In general, do you ever think the kinds of things stylists in movies come up with (such as bustiers under blazers or other outlandish ideas) have a place in the real world? what to wear to a business cocktail party during orientation

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How to Job Search When You’re Super Busy

how to job search when you're super busyJob-hunting is challenging enough when you have a typical full-time career — but how do you handle looking for a new position when you work long hours in a job that makes it hard to get away for networking and interviews? We’ve talked a lot about interviewing, job-hunting, and networking over the years (and certainly finding time to date when you’re super busy, as well as how to make time for friends when you work a lot), but we haven’t specifically discussed this topic. So how do you job search when you’re super busy?

Recently, a reader asked a question (in the comments on a post) about how to deal with this issue. Here’s her situation:

How do you find time to job search when you are working crazy hours and can’t get away easily, like in ibanking/consulting/law? Any tips from people who have gone through this? When did you let people know anything about your job search? If you used your network did you ask people not to talk about the fact that you are job searching?

She got some great responses that we thought we’d round up for the benefit of others with the same question. Those of you with more advice and experience here, though, please weigh in — what are your best tips on how to job search when you’re super busy and it’s hard to leave the office?

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Mentoring Advice: How to Be a Great Mentee (and How to be a Great Mentor)

Mentoring Advice for WomenI was thinking recently about the different mentors I’ve had over the years — as well as the different mentees — and I started wondering: what are best practices on both sides of the relationship? How can you get the most out of your mentor-mentee relationship?  What’s the best advice for how to be a great mentee — and on the flip side, what’s the best advice for how to be a great mentor? In general what’s the best mentoring advice out there? (Do you have different mentoring advice for women than you do for men?) I’d love to hear your thoughts on the mentor-mentee relationship in today’s open thread.

For my $.02, these are my tips on how to be a great mentee:

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The Best LinkedIn Settings for Job Hunting

The Best LinkedIn Settings for Job Hunting

2018 Update: We still stand by this advice on the best LinkedIn settings — but you may also want to check out our latest discussion on LinkedIn, including how to get the most out of your LinkedIn profile in 2018.

Ladies, do you sometimes feel a little intimidated or confused by LinkedIn privacy settings and LinkedIn etiquette? If you say “open to new job opportunities” or significantly update your profile, is that a red flag to your boss? Is it creepy if people see that you’ve been looking at their profiles? We did a story in 2012 about how to secretly use LinkedIn to change careers, and I thought it would be helpful to everyone if we did an update on LinkedIn settings, whether you’re looking to change careers or just generally job hunting or networking. – Kat 

Whether or not you’re one of those people who complain that LinkedIn is turning into Facebook, it’s important to keep up with the site’s changes and new features and to always know what your privacy settings are. (By the way, if you don’t have two-step verification set up, which became an option in 2013, go do that right now.) Have you noticed the recent changes made to the LinkedIn Settings page? It’s simpler and more streamlined, but you might find it harder to locate certain options you’ve used in the past. Now is a great time to make sure you’ve got the optimal Linkedin settings for privacy — especially if you’re looking for a new job.

Pictured: linkedin, originally uploaded to Flickr by sue seecof.  

Here’s a brief guide to ensuring your job hunting (and networking with an eye to job hunting) activities stay private by picking the right LinkedIn settings:

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