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We’ve all heard the saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” While there is some truth to this, if the people you know don’t have confidence that you know what you’re talking about, what’s the point of knowing them?

I’m Montes McCarron, a professional networker based in the Big Apple, though I’m always traveling for my work. I’ve found my passion and success in building my networking career over the last ten years, and I’d like to think I’ve gained enough experience and expertise to help budding online and in-person networkers like I once was.

With the rise of social media, blogging seems to be one of the most integral ways of reaching those who are also looking to find success as a professional networker. For this reason, I’ve decided to begin documenting my experiences networking. Future networkers, take note! I’ll be telling you all about the professional connections I’ve made, as well as my mistakes so that, hopefully, you can build your career into something great.

What Is Networking?

Before we talk about how I started networking, it’s important that you know what a professional networker is and what we do. Everyone, professional networker or not, networks nearly every day, without even realizing it. Think of networking as building and maintaining relationships. My goal is to connect with people so we can build and maintain relationships with people they know, and so on.

In the business world, networkers can help build connections with other companies through business ties, or even by word of mouth. If a company has a common interest that another corporation can help with in some way, and be mutually beneficial, they can work together. Or, if you’ve built the connection and another corporation could benefit from their services, you can then connect with that company and build further professional relationships.

Networking events, social media, business cards, and just getting out there can make a world of difference when you hope to build a career as a professional networker. But possibly the most important piece of advice I can give you is to bring what you offer to the table, but learn as much as you can about the people you meet. This makes the connection stronger by being more sincere.

Building Online and In-Person Professional Connections

Although I had been networking for years without even realizing it, my first day as a professional networker was working for a now widely known audio company as an entry-level networker. I was feeling a little apprehensive the night of our networking event, as any new networker would be.

As the night went on I began to feel defeated; I had no idea what I was doing or who I should talk to first. That’s when I met Johnnie Cochran—the ridiculously high profile attorney who helped acquit O.J. Simpson. He was so easy to talk to and I immediately felt at ease learning more about his life and career, and more importantly, who he knew at the event.

From there, the night went smoothly and I made several critical connections that led me to the career I have today. You never know who you might meet when professionally networking, but the important thing is to never let your fear hold you back from success.