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Transform Your Approach to Networking to Grow Your Career


Mon Apr 01 2024

Transform Your Approach to Networking to Grow Your Career

Are you ready to launch a new chapter in your life or career? Prepare to network!

Before you groan and say “I know, I know”, let’s re-imagine networks and networking.


Networks are safety nets to catch you, trampolines to help you leap to new heights, and teams for you to achieve your dreams. Think of three people outside your family who bring you energy, joy, and strength. They are your network. The actions you take to engage them and build your relationships are networking!

Follow this blog series to transform your approach to networking and grow your career in 2024. We’ll help you:

  • Build a network you’ll love.

  • Engage people who WANT to help you succeed personally and professionally.

  • Cultivate, nurture, and nourish your network.

  • Create a world that works better by unleashing the power of networks to help individuals, organizations, and communities thrive.

The forthcoming blogs will help you develop your network culture, develop and maintain your connections, network online and at events, and engage in your community.

To start your networking journey:

  • Transform your thoughts.

  • Set your intentions.

  • Master your mindset.

Transform Your Thoughts

Imagine walking effortlessly into a room filled with strangers. You are laughing and smiling. You are uplifting and energizing. People are surprised they are telling you their most personal stories. Some moments are filled with hysterical laughter and, others, gentle tears. Because of you, people feel safe enough to share deeply personal, authentic, and vulnerable bits of themselves.


You realize you are networking and … love it!

Even if in-person networking makes you nauseous, I guarantee this can and will be your story too. How can I be so confident? Because I am a nauseous networker. If I can build a network that provides me joy, inspiration, motivation, and strength, you can do it too!

Networking choices are personal. Re-imagine what networking looks and feels like to you. Then, choose who, how, when, why, and where you engage.

Set Your Intentions

Networking is about building and nurturing relationships. When you network, you are investing your time and energy in people. Time is a finite resource; clarify your intentions to invest your time wisely.

Intentions specify why you want to build your network. Themes for short-term and long-term career and life goals might include:

  • Learn and grow personally, professionally, or as a community leader.

  • Find a job, mentor, sponsor, or pickleball partner.

  • Find support to care for children, aging parents, or pets.

  • Engage in your local community.

Be intentional, and think about what you may need, what you can give, and how you can connect people to add value across networks.

Master Your Mindset

As you prepare for a networking situation, focus on your mindset. Why are you choosing to engage this person or attend this event?

You have a networking vision, set your intentions, and know why you want to network. None of that will matter if you aren’t intentional about your mindset. It influences how you engage people, the energy you create, and what people remember about you.

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou

How do you want to be remembered?

If you are in a transition, you might be feeling sad and mad. You will need to transform your mindset so you can engage with excitement and energy. What do you need to shift to be ready to engage your network with curiosity, generosity, and gratitude?

When you master your mindset, you will leave every networking conversation feeling grateful, inspired, and motivated to get things done.

Activity to Master Mindset: Highs, Lows, and Gos

Step 1: Setting the Stage

  • Dedicate about an hour for reflection.

  • Find your happy or flow space.

  • Turn on your favorite tunes.

  • Capture your thoughts. Use a pen and pad, markers and flip charts, a pencil and sticky notes, or a tablet and digital pen. It’s your life—grab the tools that let you have fun as you reflect on it.

Step 2: Identifying the Highs

  • Write down career highlights that sparked joy, growth, and learning.

  • Note who was on the teams that led to the triumphs.

  • Reflect on the challenges you overcame.

  • Capture elements of these events, why you loved them, and how much you had to learn.

  • Review your list. Which items make you smile and realize how talented, capable, and valuable you are? Which capabilities and strengths do you want to build on as you embark on a new chapter in your career and life?

Step 3: Acknowledging the Lows

  • Recognize the less positive aspects of your career journey.

  • Write down what aspects of previous roles or environments didn’t resonate with you. Include people, personality types, managerial styles, and organizational cultures.

  • Identify any negative emotions or experiences from your past job.

  • Acknowledge any emotions and negative energy that comes up.

  • Clarify what you want to avoid in your next role.

Step 4: Focusing on the Gos (Letting Go to Go Forward)

The goal of this exercise is to help you be intentional about your mindset and the energy you want to bring into your network.

Let Go

  • Reflect on what you need to let go of. Unhelpful attitudes, past grievances, emotions, or negative energy that might limit future success.

  • Acknowledge and release limiting emotions, energy, and beliefs.

Go Forward

  • Review your “highs” and what excites, motivates, and makes you smile.

  • Feel the energy. What kinds of activities, people, and environments energize you? What propels you forward?

Now that you know what energizes you, tap into this energy as you network. Let it shape the culture of your network and inform the next chapter of your career.

You are incredible and unique. People want to meet you!

You Mastered Your Mindset!

As you network, remember why you are there, relax, and get ready—you are about to meet someone amazing.

Remember, you choose who, where, when, and how you engage in networking. Focus on connecting with people who make your life vibrant, joyful, and meaningful.

Follow ATD’s blog for more networking tips, tools, and strategies that will help you transform your approach to networking and succeed in your career. While looking for networking content, check out resources like “6 Actions to Grow Your Career and Personal Brand in 2024” by William Aruda. Bookmark this link for job postings and ATD’s My Career page for resources to help you thrive as an individual, an L&D professional, and a learning leader in your organization and community.

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