Building a professional community is all about connecting with classmates, colleagues, and sometimes even strangers. All it takes is finding one common thread you two share that can tie you to a new professional connection.

Perhaps you have the same alma mater, work in similar industries, or simply have a mutual friend. All of these are great links to look for when establishing your professional network. 

You may be asking yourself: I see I have a lot of professional ties with this person, but how do I make a connection with them? 

Start by saying hello.

Seriously, it’s that simple. Whether it’s a colleague you see regularly or someone you’ve never met, saying “hello” and summarizing your connection can go a long way in building a professional community. 

The same rule applies at networking events. See someone you want to start a conversation with? Then simply walk up to then, smile, and introduce yourself. Taking the initiative to start a conversation conveys you are confident and worth talking to. 

If the idea of saying “hello” to a stranger still scares you, then remind yourself how lucky you are to be building a professional community in this digital era. “Cold calling” no longer requires having to pick up the phone and call someone (though you should never completely throw this option out!) Simply send an email, a LinkedIn invite, or a message on Slack and you’re on your way to building a network. 

Putting yourself out there and making yourself known is the first step in developing a professional community. Oftentimes, the best way to connect with someone is to simply say “hello.”


About the Author

Maura Mazurowski

Maura Mazurowski is the Community Coordinator bringing together students and alumni to the Longwood Professional Communities. She also produced Season 2 of the Longwood podcast, Day After Graduation." Her work has been published in The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, The Daily Progress, Virginia Mercury, and more.

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