It has long been known and accepted that one of the best ways to be successful in your chosen profession is to build a strong network of people around you. But accomplishing that feat is often easier said than done. Setting up and maintaining a secure network does not “just happen” It takes a lot of work and effort. But, it can be difficult to know where and how to begin developing a network that will be a help to you. Whether you are just starting out in the workforce, changing careers midway through or are well established in a career that is the perfect fit for you, these helpful hints will help you set up and maintain a fantastic network of people that will propel your career forward.
Stay in People’s Minds
If you want to have a network full of helpful people, you first need to be in their consciousness. Find ways for people to be aware of you and find you so you will be in a better position when the time comes to connect with them. You can increase your chances of people knowing your name by frequently publishing great content that can help them. Publishing helpful content that provides great insight gets you noticed and causes people to view you as an authority in the industry. Once your reputation is set, people will be seeking you out, and the foundation of your network will be set.
Expect Nothing for Your Efforts
Building a vast network of people requires you to be selfless and altruistic. If someone in your network needs your assistance, give it willingly and expect nothing in return. Act like people deserve your help without a requirement of getting something back for it. Although most people will return a favor in kind, not everyone can. So, expecting there to be a quid pro quo attached can get you into a bit of a jam. Instead, give your help, advice and talents freely. You will get enough back without having to expect anything, and you will build stronger relationships along the way.
Create Meaningful Relationships
When you embark on developing relationships to increase your network, it is crucial to focus on the relationships that will be meaningful to both parties. In other words, the quality of relationships is far better than the quantity of them. Adding people to your network and then never having meaningful communication or not exchanging ideas is fruitless. Instead, only add people with whom you can have a mutually beneficial relationship to your network. You can easily increase the opportunity for gaining a benefit by exceeding someone’s expectations repeatedly over time.
Volunteering is a great way to increase your network. If possible, volunteer somewhere where you can show off your managerial, organizational, and fundraising skills along with any other talents that can translate to your industry. Let your actions show that you are the “go-to” person who can get any job done. When you make positive contributions to a worthy cause, people will notice and your network will grow.
Be a Sponsor
Sponsoring a community event is an excellent way to get your name out to the public. If you cannot afford to sponsor an event by yourself, consider co-sponsoring with another company. You can even take on a smaller sponsorship role and focus on a single aspect of a larger event. Being part of a community event gives you the exposure you need and lets everyone see your community spirit.
Use Social Media the Right Way
Today more networking is being done online than it is in person. But, that does not mean you cannot make a positive personal connection when you are many miles away. Social media platforms like LinkedIn are a great medium for creating and cultivating professional networks. But, you need to do it the right way by following these tips:
- Make sure your timing is right.
- Give a personal response rather than a generic one.
- Ask a mutual connection for an introduction.
- Send an InMail.
- Join and participate in groups.
Stay in Contact With Your Network
Building and maintaining a network is a task that never gets completed. If you make connections but do not foster them, the connections will be lost. If you are going to go through the effort of making a connection, you must reconnect sooner rather than later. Waiting for a year or longer is way too long to go without communicating. Instead, touch base with those who make up your network on a semi-regular basis. If you keep the communication fresh, it will not seem like an effort. Instead, it will simply be part of your routine. Keeping your network relationships fresh will pay off in spades for both you and the other people in your network.
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