Probably you may have heard it a hundred times: The best way to grow professionally is through your professional networking. Professional Networking is an art which very few people are proficient at. But, if you’re like most people to whom making new contact seems like a game of maze, worry not. In this blog, we’ll guide you step by step of how to build and expand your network from scratch.
Ways To Build Your Professional Network
Professional Networking Sites
LinkedIn is the most preferred way to build an impressive professional network by reaching out to industry mavens, experts, etc. For someone who is shy, this is the best way to grow your professional network without attending an event or picking up a phone. However, to stand out, tailor your connection request. This simple gesture will make you come across as a thoughtful and honest professional. To make it easier, LinkedIn has introduced a new built-in feature, where you can even seek career advice from industry experts.
As a part of your homework, it is important to stay updated with the trends and current happenings in your industry. You can subscribe to reputed publications, newsletters etc. to stay in sync with the mover and shakers in your industry. Twitter is one of the best ways to get a glimpse of trending news in your area of interest or industry. By updating yourself with the latest headlines, you’ll be able to break the ice when conversing about these topics.
Join Meetup Groups
Networking can be fun. Seriously, we are not joking! Try joining one of the business networking groups or events, such as Meetup.com to make new friends as well as grow your professional clique. These meetup groups are a great way to meet like-minded professionals and also upgrade yourself with new skills and the latest happenings.
Don’t be afraid to ask someone in your network or a wingman for a favour. Well, would you mind recommending a connection to someone you know? Definitely not! Most of the people are happy to introduce you to someone who they think can help.
This may look little surprising, but volunteering work can open doors to meeting new people with whom you share similar interests. Remember: Building a business network isn’t just about asking for information and help from others. It’s a two-way street. If you come across something which you know might be helpful for your connections – share it with them.
If you’re a bibliophile, you can start a book club and invite friends and even their friends to join the club. In this way, you’ll be able to meet a new set of people and you never know who they can introduce you to.
The Common Quandaries While Building A Network
Quantity Or Quality?
If you adopt a numbers game (prefer quantity over quality) while expanding your network while hoping that one or two contacts will come to your rescue, then you’re making a huge mistake. You can consider focussing on establishing win-win connections that benefit both you and your contact.
The health of your network boils down to the quality and efficacy of the connections, not the number of the contacts.
Who Should Be A Part Of The Network?
Your network can include almost everyone you’ve ever met, as long as they are genuine. If a person has a criminal record behind him/her or is looked up to negatively, you may not want to sabotage your reputation by being a part of their network. So, choose wisely!
Few of the suggestions of connection who can be a part of your network are current and ex-colleagues, fellow members, friends, family, mentors, instructors, former classmates and professors, etc.
How Often Should I Nurture My Professional Coterie?
Your professional networking should not be treated like a dusty book normally used to decorate the bookshelf and used to refer only when required. Definitely, it’s not a good feeling to reach out to someone who probably doesn’t even remember you in the first place or miss out on an opportunity because your network didn’t think of you.
You must have heard this – Strike while the iron is hot. Nurture your network by wishing them on occasions such as birthday, work anniversary, promotion, new job, etc. Make plans together to attend a seminar/meetups on topics that appeal to both of you.
Last Few Words Of Caution
You never know when you’ll stumble upon relevant connections. To avoid any awkward moment, always ensure you have your business card with you. With this, also constantly update your LinkedIn profile. Make sure it is concise, accurate and simple for your connections to comprehend without any sweat. Lastly, be proactive and step out of your comfort zone by also connecting with people outside your industry or domain.
To build a professional networking isn’t something that happens overnight, it’s an on-going process throughout life. Also, we know building a valuable network from scratch can be exhilarating. However, if you give a careful thought and dedicate time, networking will definitely pay in an unexpected (but good) ways and welcome new professional victories in your career.