Networking gets a bad rap – but it doesn’t have to be overly scary, shallow or corporate, writes Teresa Xie for Vox.

Here’s a simple guide that shows you how to make the most of networking, and how to make it feel less cringey.

Network with friends first
There’s no easier place to start networking than with people you already know. A close mentor, professor or even friend could know that you’re vaguely interested in something, but have no idea that you’re actively looking for a job or could use some advice if you don’t tell them.

Reactivate loose connections (email is your friend)
Those in your inner circle usually have the same information and overlapping networks that you do. It’s more likely that an acquaintance will have a different perspective and can act as a bridge to other networks you cannot see. Reaching out to that friend-of-a-friend who works in a field you’re interested in could open you up to even more circles.

Google and social media are also your friends
With the ability to find and reach people with a quick Google search, networking has never been easier — and has become even more accessible since the pandemic uncovered more ways to connect beyond in-person events.

Keep in touch, and always send a thank you note
Perhaps the most important but overlooked step of networking is keeping in contact with people you’ve already connected with. After a phone call or coffee chat, always remember to send a thank you note to the person who took time out of their day to talk to you. It’s best to mention specific anecdotes from your conversation, and reiterate your experiences and what you’re interested in.