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10 Tips to Network Like an Affinity Group Member

March 12, 2015

Committed to building a network of change-makers in Northeast Florida, United Way’s affinity groups support the community through their time and generous giving. United Way’s affinity groups also dedicate their time and energy to increase awareness surrounding education, financial stability, and health initiatives as advocates in their workplaces and the community. Through their social, professional, and volunteer activities, affinity groups create connections between people with the passion, resources and expertise to get things done.

One of the key benefits of joining an affinity group is the opportunity to engage with and serve alongside some of the most community-minded professionals in Northeast Florida. We’ve captured some of our favorite networking tips below that will have you ready to work the room at the next Atlantic Circle, WILL, Builders Society or Tocqueville Society event.

1. Network with your existing contacts.


When assembling a network of contacts, begin with people you know. Contact friends, family members and former classmates and colleagues. Take advantage of the power social media provides. Use Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social media platforms as a tool to reconnect with old friends and colleagues.

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2. Find a mentor.


A mentor is a powerful asset to have. Not only can they give you guidance and introduce you to prominent persons in your job market or field of study, but they also give you instant credibility. A respected mentor who can attest to your strengths and skills will help you leave a strong impression on employers.

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3. Make connections through volunteer work or an internship.


Volunteer work and internships are a great way to network and demonstrate your commitment to a job and willingness to learn. Volunteer work and internships also provide you with the opportunity to work and attend events with potential contacts in your field of work.

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4. Master the art of small talk.


Networking is about building genuine relationships. Small talk is instrumental when networking, however many people make the mistake of only discussing themselves. Strive for a back and forth exchange, encouraging your contact to keep an open line of communication. By asking questions and listening, you will make others feel comfortable, show your interest, and leave a sincere impression.

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5. Have a plan or professional pitch ready.


You want to be visible and credible. To do this you must be able to communicate passion for the work you wish to accomplish effectively and efficiently. Have in mind what you want to say, but don’t make it sound memorized or rehearsed. Putting your thoughts and questions together beforehand will help streamline communication.

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6. Don’t be afraid to make the follow-up call or email.


Make sure you maintain the relationship by following-up with the contact. Touch base with the contact within 48 hours, but don’t make it generic. Make it personal. You want to leave an impression.

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7. Be willing to give out favors.


Asking, “How can I help?” will open more doors. It goes back to the idea of building relationships. Figure out how you can be useful to them. Building relationships is about reciprocity.

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8. Ask for favors.


Don’t be afraid to ask for favors. Networking is about building relationships and reciprocity. If your contact is comfortable asking you for a favor, don’t be afraid to ask for one in return. It helps establish both of your connections.

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9. Business cards.


The easiest way to leave your name behind is by exchanging business cards. Always have them with you and be ready to distribute them.

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10. Don’t discount anyone.


When making contacts, people often overlook others because of job title. Instead, they should ascertain the value of each person. Someone who may not seem like a valuable contact may have connections or valuable knowledge that could help you later on.