Q&A: How to Network Without Feeling Weird

Mar 27, 2024 | Burning Question


I’m an introvert so networking is hard for me. I hate it! Once I overcome my nervousness and participate in a productive conversation, what then? I don’t want to lose touch with this person, yet I’m never quite sure what will appear creepy or inappropriate after the fact. What do you advise? – Julie, 24

A. Think of networking as relationship-building. Much like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to build a career. We all need relationships to help us evolve, grow, and advance. It only gets creepy if you overstep the relationship by asking for a favor without building mutual trust. Besides, most people WANT to help others if they’re in a position to do so. 😊

After meeting a new person, ask them if they have a business card so you can keep in touch. Send a quick email within 24 hours to let them know you were pleased to meet, enjoyed the discussion, and would like to stay connected. If you’re both local, you can suggest a coffee or a drink in a month or so. (And be sure to follow through!)

Another option is to connect on LinkedIn (within 24 hours so it’s fresh) and instead of just a “follow” select “add a note” so you can write a short message of thanks. Make a point to stay in touch by commenting on their posted content and be generous by sharing articles or links that are connected to your conversation and/or profession. If you have a great connection, you can also follow them on TikTok, IG or other social media platforms.


I have several amazing mentors whom I spend time with by phone and in person. They are very successful and can buy anything they need so I don’t know what is appropriate for expressing my gratitude. Are gifts expected or is that weird? – Lauren, 34

A. I love that you have thought about this and want to do the right thing. Typically, mentors are not expecting gifts of any sort. One year, I wanted to let a mentor know how profoundly he impacted my life over many years so I bought him a fountain pen. As he opened it, he had tears of joy – not so much for the pen, but because I appreciated him AND noticed he had a different fountain pen in every meeting (he was a collector!).

Most importantly, mentors thrive by seeing YOU thrive. The best way to show you appreciate their time and influence is by sharing your actions taken based on their guidance. Also, share feedback you’re receiving from your colleagues and manager on your progress. 📝 Lastly, follow through each session with a note of thanks, highlighting a specific piece of insight you will put into action.

When mentors feel appreciated, they find more time on their calendar for you.

P.S. What are you struggling with? What aspects do you wish you had more guidance on? Share your questions with us by filling out this quick form. We might just answer your question in our next edition. 😉

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