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Nearly 60% Of Black Workers Feel They Have No Professional Network—Here Are 5 Tips To Build One

Connecting with people you know first and diversifying your network can help enhance interactions.

It’s no mystery that networking can be vital for career growth, whether you are pursuing new job options, seeking ideas, or trying to build professional relationships.

Who you know and interact with are crucial in helping you gain an edge in business, potentially boosting income, and bagging promotional and mentorship resources.

However, for professionals of color, networking can also be an obstacle. Some 50% of Black professionals feel unsure where to start in their networks compared to 40% of white professionals, according to survey data from the professional networking site LinkedIn.

Fifty-eight percent of Black workers feel they lack a strong professional network for guidance, compared with 42% of their white peers facing related challenges. (Note: Games on LinkedIn recently launched as a way to put a fun spin on networking.)

LinkedIn Career Expert Andrew McCaskill often touches on the topic through his “The Black Guy in Marketing” newsletter. For instance, he recently shared how minority college graduates, including Black Americans, can use networking to build their careers.

McCaskill provided tips on how Black professionals can network on LinkedIn authentically:

  • Connect with people you know first, including friends, family, colleagues, fraternity brothers, and sorority sisters; people you know outside of your current field of work. Think of the people who likely know you best, can speak to your work ethic if you need a referral for a job, or can give you the inside scoop on a company you’re pursuing. Information is currency, and your network is your greatest source of firsthand intelligence.”
  • Diversify your network. By connecting with people who have different backgrounds as you or are in a different industry, you are able to gain new perspectives, insights, and identify new opportunities. In fact, connecting with diverse professionals can open up new career paths that you might not have thought of. You want to think of your network like it’s your personal Board of Directors—people who can advise you on very different aspects of your career—and ultimately, want the best for you.”
  • Get a Warm Introduction: With over 1 billion members and 9,000 connections made daily, LinkedIn is a great place to build authentic professional relationships. One of the best ways to create new connections on LinkedIn is to ask someone in your network to facilitate an introduction to someone in their network. In fact, according to LinkedIn data, acquaintances are more than twice as effective as a close friend in helping a job seeker find and secure a job.”
  • “Present Yourself Thoughtfully: Nervous to kick off a conversation? Here’s how to overcome that: Think through how you want to present yourself, what you want to share, and what you hope to achieve from the conversation. Reviewing someone’s LinkedIn Profile before reaching out helps you identify shared interests, allowing you to craft a thoughtful and personalized message. This approach not only helps you stand out but also shows you genuinely care about building a relationship.”
  • “Continuous Learning: Beyond networking, a new survey from LinkedIn finds that 88% of multicultural professionals are excited to use AI at work, but more than half of Black (53%) and Hispanic (54%) professionals said they don’t know how they can best learn to utilize this new tool. A good place to start is with free AI courses, such as How to Research and Write using generative AI.

“If you’re a college student in a fraternity or sorority, you need to find out which of your brothers or sisters are working in the industries where you want to work,” McCaskill said. “Because guess what? This might just be one of the most powerful networks at your disposal.”

He added, “This isn’t limited to Greek life. If you were part of the student organization for the National Association of Hispanic Engineers or Black Engineers, Girls Who Code, or any national organization of the same mentality, it applies to you. These people have a shared experience and are much more likely to say yes to an information interview or soft intro.”

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