Your personal and professional networks are some of your most important assets and drivers in building, changing, and developing your career. I am a big fan of networking and thought I would put some tips together for others that have worked for me in building & working my networking:
1. Put yourself into environments where you can make more professional connections be it through attending conferences, professional events or getting out and volunteering!
2. Don’t be shy. Walk up to people, introduce yourself and get to know them. You never know when a random meeting could turn into a meaningful personal or professional connection.
3. Use the 60-40 rule – don’t spend all of the time talking about you. Ask open ended questions and listen so that your new connection is speaking 60% of the time! Actively listen and comment on their work, interests etc.
4. Use every opportunity to build a genuine and authentic relationship. I knew someone who chose volunteering organizations by checking out the backgrounds of fellow volunteers to see if they might be of help to their career. People can sniff out this insincerity! You can have reasons for joining a cause but ensure you also want to give back to the community and believe in the cause versus taking advantage of connections you might make.
5. Ensure that you are building on an in-person connections by virtually connecting that evening or within 24 hours via email, Linked In, twitter etc
6. Talk to your network. I have built some absolutely fantastic relationships with people I have spoken at conferences at by continuing to build our dialogue on LinkedIn, over coffee and at lunch meetings.
7. If you want your network to hook up great opportunities for you, make sure you are building connections for your network. After I spoke at a conference, I had mentioned to a fellow speaker that I am trying to build my speaking experience. She took note & let a conference organizer know about me at a conference she was asked to speak at a few months later. I’m trying to the same by hooking up my connections if I know their goals and have an opportunity to support them.
Networking should be mutually benefiting for both individuals; just like the best friendships. Don’t be a user but be a connection that can help others as you genuinely want others to succeed as you believe that by helping others, your personal & professional goals will be driven forward!