How to Make Connections in Your Professional Life

Written by Brad GambleAdam Grossman

As co-founders of The Selling Factory, they work daily to coach students to land their dream job. 

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73% of people surveyed said they got a job before because of business connections. If that doesn’t prove how important business networking is, then nothing will.

The fact is, you need to strike up relationships with those in your field to gain access to opportunities. Often, these contacts open doors you otherwise wouldn’t find, and they can definitely jump-start your career.

It can be difficult to formulate effective strategies to build and maintain meaningful relationships though. So we’re here to help.

Read on to find out how to make connections in your professional life.

Identify Your Interests

Take a look around the world, there are thousands of industries, millions of businesses, and tens of millions of professionals. If you use the right search techniques, then you can easily find exactly what you need.

However, this starts with identifying your interests; without this step, you’ll waste your time sifting through irrelevant data.

Think about what industries you’re interested in exploring. Then, find out:

  • What companies work in this interest area
  • What types of roles exist in the industry
  • Who are the best people to reach out to

By addressing these questions, you can focus your energy on a more concentrated area. You’ll be able to research companies and industries specific to your interests.

And better yet, this list of researched contacts will go outside the scope of traditional college recruiting channels. This means you’ll discover additional opportunities that you wouldn’t have before.

Reach Out to Industry Professionals

One of the best ways to make career connections is to be proactive. You should perform outreach to contacts with personalized invitations to meet.

Industry professionals and business leaders will actually be pleasantly surprised to receive an invitation to meet with an emerging professional, so don’t be afraid to reach out. If you show them that you’re eager to learn about their industry, company, and role, then they’ll be more than happy to have an informational interview with you.

When you meet one-on-one with these experts, you’ll get advice on the needed skills for your desired job. In addition, they’ll give you ideas on how to break into an industry.

Most importantly, you’ll build direct rapport with your new business contacts. This will be invaluable, as you’ll have a significant advantage compared to other college students.

If you aren’t sure what to do during these one-on-one meetings, then invest time into our Actionable Networking program. We’ll prepare you with question sequences, active listening techniques, and effective follow-up steps.

You’ll gain the necessary career skills to interact effectively with industry professionals. In fact, we provided tested outreach templates that resulted in positive responses that are 16 times more effective than traditional cold outreach tactics. You can count on our program to produce fantastic results.

Utilize Your Existing Connections

If you’re at a loss as to how to network, then start off easy and use what you already have. Chances are, you already know a few people in the industry, so take advantage of that.

Leverage your current connections to introduce you to their contacts. Because these contacts can vouch for you and give you a warm introduction, this significantly improves your chances of making a meaningful connection. As a result, you can grow your network quicker and get one step closer to your dream job.

Go to Networking Events

Networking events are specifically for professionals to make connections, so it never hurts to attend these. Look for industry conferences, seminars, and workshops to sign up for.

These are all excellent opportunities to meet other professionals, as well as potential mentors and future collaborators. Even if someone doesn’t initially seem like they’d be relevant to you, it’s still worth it to chat with them and connect. After all, you never know if you’ll get a random opportunity that requires their expertise.

Maintain These Business Connections

Building rapport takes initial effort, but you’re not done after making these connections. You’ll also need to deeper these relationships and maintain them.

To do this, you’ll need to provide value to stay top-of-mind with business leaders. So how do you do this?

You’ll have to create your own unique skill-based value-creation model and develop a value-add cadence that builds reciprocity. This leads to referral opportunities that unlock hidden job opportunities when the time is right.

This may sound like a tall order, but Actionable Networking will walk you through all these steps to set you up for success.

Be Approachable, Positive, and Genuine

No one wants to approach a surly person, so do your best to be approachable. Be friendly and positive in your interactions with others, as people are more likely to connect with individuals who show a positive attitude.

Plus, they can tell when someone’s not being genuine, which means authenticity is vital when making connections. Be yourself and express your genuine interests. Make sure you show a sincere desire to learn from and collaborate with others.

Most importantly, be willing to assist others with their challenges or offer support when needed. Building a reputation as a helpful and reliable person can lead to long-lasting business contacts.

Know How to Make Connections Effectively

When you know how to make connections effectively, you’ll unlock a brighter future with many wonderful options.

However, making real business relationships isn’t easy. Not only do you have to put yourself out there, but you have to make an active effort to maintain these connections too.

Once you’ve got a hang of it, though, it’ll be worth it. You’ll have a whole network of professionals at your disposal.

If you’re interested in learning more about Actionable Networking, then sign up for our workshop now. We’ll prepare you for your dream job over three sessions.

Victoria Zamitalo

Campaign Manager

Victoria received a BA in History and Economics from the University of Florida in May 2023. She is a driven sales professional with over 5 years combined experience in customer service, consumer relations and outbound sales, and is deeply passionate about fostering close relationships between consumers and sellers. She aims to train the next generation of sales professionals in not only the tricks of the trade, but also interpersonal skills that make sales the exciting and ever-changing industry that it is.

Mia Semel

Campaign Manager

Before graduating with a B.A. in Sustainability Studies, Mia took on multiple roles while interning at The Selling Factory, including sales development, recruiting, and leading campaigns. She is an active listener and effective communicator, specializing in fostering genuine connections and finding common ground among differing perspectives. She aims to find practical, creative solutions regarding sustainable development, biodiversity and the climate crisis.

Kira Grieve

Senior Campaign Manager

Kira graduated from the University of Florida and received her Master of Science in Entrepreneurship. She is passionate about helping businesses grow and connecting with new people. Some of her hobbies include traveling and hiking. She hopes to visit all of the National Parks one day!

Jared Glosser

Vice President

After graduating from UF in 2014 with a B.A. in history, Jared started his professional career Fundraising for a non-partisan political lobby in South Florida. In 2016, Jared moved back to Gainesville to work for a non-profit, recruit students for international travel opportunities, and pursue his MBA at UF. Jared has been with The Selling Factory since 2019 focusing on operations, client onboarding, and client success.

Ian Massenburg

Chief Operating Officer

A graduate of University of Florida (B.A. 2001), Ian Massenburg brings over 18 years of sales executive and sales management experience to The Selling Factory. Before coming on-board, Ian worked alongside Brad at Infinite Energy, and then spent his next 3 years as VP of Partnerships selling SaaS products B2B. Ian brings his vast knowledge and experience to the team and to our partner companies served.

Damien Paulk

Campaign Manager

Damien is a University of Florida graduate that recently joined the team full time after working as a Sales Development Intern for one year. As a Campaign Manager, Damien looks forward to contributing to the growth and success of The Selling Factory. When Damien is not at work he enjoys exploring Gainesville with his girlfriend and dog or watching the Gators dominate college football.

Brendan Viehman

Campaign Manager

Brendan graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Project Management. For the past 5 years, he has enjoyed working with blockchain technology and cryptocurrency development. In his free time, he surfs and makes personal finance videos for his YouTube channel.

Savannah Howard

Campaign Manager

A graduate from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications, Savannah obtained her Bachelor of Science in public relations with a concentration in French. After almost two years as a sales development intern for The Selling Factory, she joined the leadership team in 2021 taking on the role of Campaign Manager. In her free time, Savannah enjoys going to concerts and festivals and cooking for her friends and family.

Zack Kampf

Campaign Manager

Zack is a creative technologist with experience in advertising, event planning, and game design. He started as an SDR in 2018 and has been with TSF ever since. Upon graduating UF in 2019 he became a campaign manager and is currently seeking a master's degree from NYU. In his spare time, you can find him at the intersection of Art & Technology!

Josiah Blakemore

Growth Manager

Josiah has over 10 years of sales experience, worked with Brad and Ian at Infinite Energy, and also spent time selling SaaS as Director of Partnerships at SharpSpring. He’s always been very competitive and has a love for sports and games. He enjoys solving problems and coaching team members to do the same!

Sue-Ming Frauenhofer

Marketing Manager

Sue-Ming received both her B.S. in Psychology and M.S. in Management from The University of Florida. As a student, she took on multiple roles while interning at The Selling Factory, including sales development, marketing, and recruiting, eventually leading to her current role as Marketing Manager. She enjoys refining her taste in music and visual art, engaging in mindfulness and meditative practices, and frolicking outside with her sidekick pup.

Adam Grossman

Chief Development Officer

Adam is an ordained rabbi, who has founded multiple ventures focused on workforce development. Hired as CEO by a failing non-profit, in over 5 years, his ingenuity saved the organization, which led to recognize it as one of North America’s most innovative Jewish non-profits. His expertise to identify, cultivate, and on-board talent ensures our student teams meet our partners’ needs.

Brad Gamble

Chief Executive Officer

After graduating from UF in 1999 with a B.S.B.A, Brad Gamble has dedicated himself to sales management, branding, coaching, and building companies. He served as the VP of Sales & Marketing for Infinite Energy until 2014, when he founded The Selling Factory. He has dedicated himself to teaching critical skills to tomorrow’s leaders, and helping companies achieve sales success and revenue growth.