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"If you are blessed enough to network with fellow Catholic professionals, this may allow each of you to deepen your understanding of your faith and live out your Catholic values at work."

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Although networking can be challenging for some, networking can help deepen our personal faith journey and our overall professional lives. Networking is an essential skill that involves creating new contacts, exchanging information and value that benefits each other, and further expanding your support network of connections. Exchanging ideas can broaden your knowledge base, deepen your understanding of your field, and strengthen your values and commitment to your faith. Maintaining and nurturing connections can lead to opportunities such as exploring pathways for professional advancement as well as seeking and offering advice and mentorship. 

So, how does one network? 

Get out there and have fun talking to people. 

You can network, speak, and connect with, essentially, anyone anywhere. In Particular, you can network with others at conferences, associations, meetings, alumni gatherings, networking groups, community service projects, workshops, and industry networking mixers. When you attend these events, take the time to pray and think about what are your goals for attending these events. Identify what kind of God-centered connections would you like to make, how can you both mutually benefit and serve each other, and why? 

Some networking tips are the following: 

Make sure to practice your concise 30-second “elevator pitch” that effectively communicates your faith journey, who you are, what you do, who you are looking to meet, and what you're passionate about. Be yourself, courteous, and approachable, expressing a genuine interest in others. Try to share insights, knowledge, advice, and resources that may support others in their professional endeavors. 

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Be mindful of your body language, maintain appropriate boundaries and eye contact, and exhibit a friendly demeanor with an open posture. Avoid dominating conversations or taking too much of others' time, allowing space for everyone to feel comfortable, participate, and contribute. Remember to listen actively and ask open-ended questions.

You can practice using the following questions at the next networking event listed below:

"What brings you to this event/conference/meeting?"

"I'm currently working on (project/challenge). Have you encountered similar challenges in your work?"

"I admire your expertise in [specific field]. Could you please share any tips or advice?"

"What inspired you to pursue your career in [industry/field]?"

"What are some challenges you've faced in your career, and how did you overcome them?"

"What are some projects or initiatives you're currently working on that you're excited about?"

"Do you have any advice for someone looking to transition into [your industry/role]?"

"Are there any networking events or professional groups you recommend for Catholic professionals in our area?"

"How do you approach ethical dilemmas or decision-making in your work?"

"Is there anything I can help you with or any way I can support your work?"

"How do you integrate your Catholic faith into your work?"

"I'd love to stay connected. Can I connect with you on LinkedIn?"

"Do you know anyone else here I should meet? I'm always looking to expand my network."

After each networking event, conducting ongoing, regular check-in “follow-ups'' periodically with fellow attendees creates the time and space to build trust and rapport to explore potential opportunities for collaboration. And if you are blessed enough to network with fellow Catholic professionals, this may allow each of you to deepen your understanding of your faith and live out your Catholic values at work. Personal and professional networking takes presence, empathy, love, time, work, and effort. In essence, mastering the art of intentional networking can lead to effectively serving God, serving others, and the overall community.

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