In today’s fast-moving, global marketplace, professional networking can be one of the most important means to finding employers, employees, partners, customers and business development opportunities. Establishing personal connections with their colleagues can help professionals find information, build support, gather resources and grow their personal brands. However, not everyone is comfortable meeting new people or building business relationships through networking. Some people consider professional networking phony and awkward, and many others suffer from shyness or fear of rejection. There are a number of ways even the most reserved businessperson can connect with others and build a network of professional relationships.

Communication Is Essential

Networking is about building sincere relationships, so it is important for even the shyest professionals to communicate with co-workers, colleagues, customers, potential contacts and connections. Some people prefer to do this via email, some like phone calls and others rely on face-to-face communication. Shy professionals should let people know how they prefer to communicate and then be consistent and responsive.

Create Social Accounts

A social profile on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter is essential to professional networking. These websites, with their accompanying apps, have transformed how professionals share information, ideas, news, market trends and employment opportunities. Social media has also changed the job search; increasingly, job seekers are leveraging their personal and professional networks to find jobs while recruiters are doing the same to find employees. Jobvite, a recruiting and applicant-tracking application many companies use to manage the hiring process, reports that 73 percent of recruiters have hired a candidate through social media, 79 percent of which used LinkedIn to do so. Jobvite reported in its 2014 Social Recruiting Survey that 95 percent of recruiters used LinkedIn to search for and contact candidates, while 92 percent of recruiters posted jobs on LinkedIn’s social platform.

Attend Campus Events

Networking is one of the most popular reasons students apply to online MBA programs. Student networking groups, online study, mentoring groups and electronic discussion boards are common in any business school, and most schools host academic competitions, club and association activities and career fairs. Many universities host networking events to help students meet recruiters and alumni from a variety of industries. Networking with fellow classmates, faculty and alumni can be as beneficial as earning a degree when it comes to landing a job after graduation.

Handled correctly and consistently, professional networking can create opportunities for anyone at any stage in his or her career.

Learn about the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi online MBA program.