One of the keys to becoming successful is building a strong professional network. Your network can consist of a wide range of professional and personal relationships including former and present managers, colleagues, acquaintances, professors, school/college alumni, and other working professionals.
Meeting people and developing a rapport with them will not only build your reputation but also open up a new window of opportunity.
So if you want to broaden your network, here are six tips that will maximize your networking opportunities.
1. Make friends
When it comes to networking, it really helps to be a bit of an extrovert. The more people you meet, the stronger your network will be and that will help you access information about a possible job opening or lead you to a good reference. Interacting with colleagues at work, showing up for birthdays, going for lunches and happy hours, introducing yourself to the speaker at a conference are all possible avenues for broadening your network.
2. Networking On The Go
Formal networking opportunities such as industry events, trade shows, conferences, are no longer the only place you can network. Over the years networking has become more organic. Talking about your goals with other parents at the pick-up line in school, during casual dinner parties, over drinks or any kind of social gathering must be viewed as ways of building meaningful connections.
3. Network Effectively
It is important to listen to attentively and engage in conversations while networking. Always keep your elevator pitch ready as you never know when you are bound to meet the right connection. Don’t forget to mention your place of work and your role in the organization while introducing yourself. It is also important to follow up with people to ensure familiarity. A casual text or adding them on social media are good means of strengthening new connections.
4. Build A Positive Online Presence
In today’s world where Google has become a verb, it is highly likely that people will go online and search for more information about you. Just as you will want to make a good first impression in person, ensure that your social media profile does the same for you in the digital world. Refrain from posting anything inappropriate and proofread everything before clicking the post button.
5. Give Back
People like to be in relationships that are mutually benefiting. Therefore it is important to show interest in your connections and add value instead of only focusing on getting information from them. If you have a contact who may be useful to the person you are speaking to, passing on that information is not only polite but will also give you a grateful connection. And that person is more likely to return the favor when an opportunity arises.
The final tip is to reconnect with people with whom it’s been a while since you last spoke. Though it is understandable to fall out of touch with people in your network, it is important to reconnect with them before asking for a possible favor. Reaching out to them and acknowledging the lack of communication will help break the ice. Congratulating them on recent success, sending relevant content or simply asking how they have been are effective ways of engaging with old contacts.
Milan holds a Masters in Business Administration and has taken a self-inflicted exile from the paid workforce to look after her twin daughters. She is trying to find the answer to the most dreaded question of any stay-at-home mum,”What do you do?”