Networking is Connecting, Learning, and Developing Mutually Beneficial Relationships

This four-part series on networking highlights key lessons and strategies to help you build strong connections and achieve your career goals

Photo portrait of Alison Foo, MSc, PMP
Alison Foo, MSc, PMP

Alison Foo is a career, communication and leadership coach. She’s passionate about changing lives through teaching professional skills. She has worked with graduate students, newcomers, marginalized groups, and professionals from various industries. Her specialty is the clinical and research sectors. Alison is also a clinical research professor. She teaches at Seneca College, McMaster University Continuing Education, and ACCES Employment. Previously, she worked on all phases of clinical trials and specialized in clinical trial management, clinical data management, clinical monitoring, and stakeholder management. When she’s not working or volunteering, she’s spending time with her rescue dog, watching Asian TV, and saving recipes she’ll never use.

ViewFull Profile
Learn about ourEditorial Policies.
Published:Nov 24, 2023
|3 min read
Register for free to listen to this article
Listen with Speechify
0:00
5:00

I started networking over two decades ago, and I’m sure I’ll continue long after I retire, because it has helped me in all stages of my personal and professional life. Networking didn’t come naturally to me, but after much practice, I grew to enjoy it. In fact, before the pandemic, I was actively networking at least 5 times a week, every week, and I maintained this momentum for more than a year. 

Now, I’m sharing my learned lessons and favorite strategies to help you build confidence, develop stronger connections, and achieve your career goals in my four-part webinar series on networking:

Part 1: Networking, A Different Perspective

Part 2: Conversational Strategies

Part 3: Leveraging LinkedIn

Part 4: Effective Informational Interviews

I remember the first step I took in strategic networking. I was an undergraduate student, and I went to ask my professor a question. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but it took me years to decide and plan this move. You see, I had been observing classmates that regularly spoke with professors after lectures. I overheard their questions and often thought, you could have easily figured that out on your own; why risk leaving a negative impression? It took me an embarrassing amount of time to realize they were trying to lay the groundwork for obtaining reference letters. Although I didn’t agree with their approach, I certainly admired their courage.

Since I couldn’t think of a better way to stand out in class, I combined their strategy with my authenticity. My plan was to go to my nicest professor’s office hours, where there wouldn’t be onlookers, and ask him a good question. 

It took several months to think of a question that met all the following conditions:

  • Something I was curious to know to demonstrate genuine interest in his area of expertise
  • Something relevant to the curriculum but not covered by course materials to demonstrate higher-level thinking and holistic application of knowledge
  • Something not commonly asked to demonstrate critical thinking and engage in an interesting and memorable conversation

Today, I can’t remember what the question was, but I do remember him pausing to think before answering. I took it as confirmation of an impactful question. Then, I asked a follow-up question based on his answer to show that I was listening, processing, and capable of furthering discussion. I left smiling because I was grateful for the pleasant experience. Although I didn’t end up asking for a reference letter, this encounter motivated me to ask more questions, start conversations with experts, and trust my instincts. 

So, what does this mean for you? It means that you can start anywhere, take things one step at a time, and choose people carefully when your goal is to build confidence. 

For those of you that are new to networking, this four-part webinar series will help you get started. 

For those of you who are already comfortable networking, my webinars will provide you with new perspectives and unique strategies to try. 

Be sure to watch them in order as each webinar builds upon knowledge from the previous ones:

Networking for Clinical Lab Professionals: A Different Perspective
Networking for Clinical Lab Professionals Part 2: Conversational Strategies
Networking For Clinical Lab Professionals Part 3: Leveraging LinkedIn
Networking Series Part 4: Effective Informational Interviews

Alison Foo, MSc, PMP
Alison Foo, MSc, PMP

Alison Foo is a career, communication and leadership coach. She’s passionate about changing lives through teaching professional skills. She has worked with graduate students, newcomers, marginalized groups, and professionals from various industries. Her specialty is the clinical and research sectors. Alison is also a clinical research professor. She teaches at Seneca College, McMaster University Continuing Education, and ACCES Employment. Previously, she worked on all phases of clinical trials and specialized in clinical trial management, clinical data management, clinical monitoring, and stakeholder management. When she’s not working or volunteering, she’s spending time with her rescue dog, watching Asian TV, and saving recipes she’ll never use.


Tags:

Careerseducation and trainingnetworking professional development
Top Image:
Why risk leaving a negative impression? Watch this four-part webinar series on networking to learn how to make a lasting positive impression.
iStock, RLT_Images