According To Lauren Conrad, These Are The Networking Tools You Need

Photographed by Sarah Kerens.

With this month’s Work It theme in mind, today I am sharing some more
career advice for all my young professionals out there. Whether you’re a young woman just
starting off in your career or you’re looking to make that next big leap, one
of the best skills you can learn is how to network. The word "networking" often gets a bad rap, but at its core, networking is all about
building relationships within your industry. So much of advancing in your
career has to do with having colleagues who inspire you and mentors who take an
interest in your work. Here are a few networking tips to keep in mind.

Be Your Own Brand
Regardless of
industry, it always pays to be good at branding yourself. Think about the key
traits that represent your personal brand — both aesthetically and your core values.
Know what makes you tick, and how your work stands out from everyone else’s. Once
you’ve identified your personal brand for yourself, you will be able to talk
about it confidently with others. 

Carry A Card
Some people might tell
you that business cards are irrelevant in today’s digital age. But, I beg to
differ. Having beautiful, well-designed business cards is one more way of branding yourself — one that you can instantly show off to anyone you meet. (Of course, you should also have a beautiful, well-designed website to go with them.) Invest
in something special — think thick card stock and letterpress — to ensure that your
card won’t get thrown away at the end of the day. And, keep your cards on hand
at all times, because you never know whom you’ll end up meeting, even in a social

Try For Face Time
If there is someone
you have been working with for a while via email or social media, make an
effort to meet in person at some point. Sitting down with someone face-to-face
always makes a much greater impression than any phone call or email can. It
also helps to go to events in your industry, even when you’re not actively
looking for a job or seeking new business. Just getting in the room with people
in your field will inspire you and can lead to connections that will help you
later on. 

Make Meaningful Relationships
Networking is not
about making connections just for the sake of business. If you can make real
friends in your industry, your “network” will be that much stronger (and
“business lunches” will be that much more fun). I consider most of the women I
work with my dear friends. Because we’re so close, I know I can count on them
for creative inspiration, business wisdom, and important connections within the

Be Social-Media Savvy
When used properly,
social media can be a great tool for making and strengthening business
connections. But, if you are going to connect with an industry colleague on
social media, make sure you are using the platform(s) appropriately. I recommend only adding
a business contact on Facebook if you know each other very well and consider him or her a friend, too. Otherwise, use a site intended for networking, such as LinkedIn. As far
as Instagram and Twitter go, it can pay to follow companies and brands that you
admire. It will help you keep up with whatever they are doing, and more and
more companies are even posting jobs on their social media channels. (We hired our
current interns after posting the position on our Instagram!) 

Dress To Impress
First impressions are
everything when it comes to networking. So, the same rules that go for dressing for the office go for industry events. Even if you’re
technically “off the clock” (at a happy hour with colleagues, for instance), you
will want to dress professionally. 

Connect The Dots
The word “networking”
gets a bad rap because so many people think it is synonymous with self-promotion and trying to
get ahead. But, networking shouldn’t be an entirely selfish endeavor. A good
networker is always introducing his or her contacts to one another, and trying
to help colleagues make important connections. What goes around comes
around, and having this attitude will help you in the long term. 

What other business-related questions do you
have for me?

Let me know below! 
XO Lauren      

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series