Feeling stuck? Ready for something more?

7 ways to build a powerful network from scratch

Published about 1 month ago • 5 min read

Last night, my phone screen lit up at 10:45 PM.

My founder friend texted me. He's rapid hiring for CSMs since their startup is growing so fast. He wanted to hire through referrals first since there’s more trust baked in.

I replied, “It sounds like you need a senior person to run the ship. I have the perfect person for you.”

Within 30 minutes, they had a meeting scheduled.

THIS is the power of an active network.

You’ve heard, “Your network is your net worth.” But why is that?

Humans make decisions based on recommendations and referrals. For the products they buy, content they consume, clothes they wear, AND the people they hire.

Your active network grants you first access to opportunities.

In addition, you typically need to pay for access to specialized knowledge. When you’re already friends? Simply text the expert (Everyone needs a doctor or nurse friend on call).

Your network isn’t purely professional. Everyone you know is part of your network, though the connection strength varies greatly.

What if you don’t have a network outside of your current city, company, or industry alignment?

Start building one.

Here are 7 of the best ways to build a network (with real life examples):

1) Join spaces based on your goals

When you join spaces designated for specific goals, everyone already has something in common. They typically have shared values and are willing to help one another reach the shared goal.

A “space” could be an online community, a physical co-working space, a networking group. They automatically turn cold connections warm.

The connection is even stronger if you share an identity when you join. Generalist World is a great example. They’re blowing up on LinkedIn because they’ve created such an incredible community for people with squiggly, non-linear career paths to connect and thrive. They’ve made the identity of “Generalist” one to be proud of rather than one to hide.

2) Create content sharing your ideas

Creating online is a catalyst for connection. It makes for rich friendships — you can experience how someone thinks without ever meeting them in real life. This is why you your favorite content creators feel like besties, even though they don’t know you.

I’ve met a ton of friends through writing on the internet (both on X in 2021 and on LinkedIn over the past year).

My friend Matt is a pro at this. He moved to NYC knowing no one, so he used the power of TikTok to call in friends that matched his vibe. It worked! He found his running group that way.

And I met him with 0 mutuals. How? He wrote a fun personal blog about his moving-to-NYC experience. It came up on my LinkedIn feed, so I decided to reach out.

We got coffee later that week and realized we had a lot in common (like dance music, interest in personal growth, writing). He decided to come out with my friends that same night, and we locked in our friendship.

He wrote another blog about that experience, furthering his thesis on making friends using the internet. Last time we hung out, he told me he’ll put our story in his Ted Talk one day — I can’t wait to watch.

(Highly recommend Matt’s blog, he’s an amazing writer and thinker.)

3) Get comfy with cold outreach

You can reach just about anyone with a cold email or DM. If not them? Someone they work with.

You do need to be willing to put yourself out there.

My friend David Nebinski hosts The Portfolio Career Podcast. He's produced over 300 episodes with guests including Seth Godin, Jack Butcher, and Mari Andrews. He lands many guests through cold outreach and is known for including short videos in email to build connection.

On the podcast, he’s talked about how you are just 1 email away from potentially changing your life. To go deeper, check out this timeless episode on the art of reaching out.

4) Become a connector

Connectors sit at the center of a network. They have what I call “host mentality.”

They want to make people feel welcome, and have a knack for connecting people to one another and to opportunities. They know who would hit it off and want to make sure no one’s left hanging. Sometimes connectors actually host events (those are great people to know). Other times, they’re a natural at connecting the dots.

Next time you see an opportunity and it’s not a fit for you, think of a friend who could benefit. Next time you walk into an event, operate like you’re the host and seek to make other people feel welcome. (This is how my friend group in NYC has grown so much. I wrote a mini-essay about it here.)

5) Give far more than you take

You build a strong network by being a giver. You can’t call in favors to a 1-sided relationship you only participate in when it benefits you. Always look for ways to add value to others — share ideas, connect them to others, let them know how they’ve impacted you.

My friend Payam is incredible at this. He spent a summer hosting events for other builders and asking how he could be helpful. When it came time for him to look for a job, he sent 1 email to his network sharing exactly how they could help. I immediately connected him to former colleagues in my network. He started a new role at his target company 2 months later.

6) ABN — Always Be Networking

Your network is not just going to appear in professional contexts. Everyone you meet could be a potential connection.

You may not end up seated next to an influential CEO on your next flight, but you DO interact with people every day.

That founder I mentioned who’s hiring? I met him at a concert. Didn’t even know we both worked in startups until a week later.

My sister got connected into real estate by talking about her interests with strangers at a volunteer event.

Talk about your interests and goals openly and treat everyone like you want to be treated. You never know who people know!

7) Demonstrate your best effort

You know those people who do such great work, you’d do anything to help them succeed? Be one of those people who puts in the effort. Asking for help in a professional context when you’re not already trying to help yourself… falls flat.

Do incredible work no matter what you’re working on. Those around you will be much more likely to connect you with others!

Follow these principles to build a network that will accelerate your career or life transition.

Regardless of how you chose to build your network, bring a positive attitude and good energy.

If you’re doing all of these steps without the right energy, none of it will work.

You will attract the energy you put out.

Happy networking,

P.S. Whenever you’re ready, there are 3 ways I can support you:

1) [Limited Time Only] If you’re looking for clear direction and want to get FIRED UP about your career again, grab the limited time replay of Career Clarity Launchpad. In 60 min, you'll learn how to get career clarity & immediate action steps to unlock more income, impact, and energy. It expires Sunday 6/23 since there's a special time-sensitive opportunity inside 👀. Grab it here.

2) 1:1 Career Coaching. High achievers who've lost their spark work with me to uncover work that lights them up & navigate big transitions with confidence. Unlock clarity on your path, a compelling personal brand, and a clear roadmap to attract aligned opportunities. If you're craving direction, accountability, and allll the good energy, grab a free Career Strategy Call.

3) Follow me on LinkedIn for daily advice on building your career and life on purpose ✨

Feeling stuck? Ready for something more?

I'm Katy Culver, founder, coach, and startup operator.

I help growth-minded professionals get clarity and pivot to work they love. Join my newsletter to build your career by design and navigate transitions with confidence. Expect big ideas, tactical strategies, and seriously good vibes. You in?

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