Create a Professional Network You’ll Actually Use

4 Secrets to Building a Quality Professional Network

Throughout your career you have undoubtedly heard the phrase “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” but is it true? The answer is yes! The great news is, the term “professional network” can be boiled down to “colleagues who are willing to give a helping hand professionally.” Finding a professional organization and building your own personal network shouldn’t be hard, and it surely doesn’t have to include saying yes to every event or invitation on LinkedIn!

 

“The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.”   – Keith Ferrazzi

 

1. Get Involved in a Professional Organization

Set your sights beyond your day-to-day at the office. A great way to expand your network is to join a professional organization in your field. This can be as simple as finding a group on LinkedIn or Facebook centered on your profession. However, the key to being successful is committing to one or two organizations you can keep up-to-date with by actively engaging in. Attend in-person events and meetups and reply to online group posts and comments. The colleagues you connect with may have fresh industry perspective and can provide invaluable professional advice. You may even find a mentor, or someone who can help you advance your career.

 

2. Make Time

Schedule time to network each day for at least 15 to 30 minutes. You only get out what you put in!  Whether it’s through online social media groups, email correspondence, or in-person networking and team building events. Everyone involved must commit themselves to make the network productive and worthwhile.

 

3. Keep in Touch (More Than Once)

Time is precious and sometimes it’s hard to just say no to an invitation. How many times have you made vague plans to grab lunch with a colleague, with no real intention to follow through? This can end up leaving a worse impression than if you had just said no in the first place. One of my trusted tips to keeping social commitments is to plan an activity that you would do regardless, like meeting at a new restaurant you’ve been meaning to try. If you know you can’t fully commit your time, send an email or refer a relevant article to show your interest. Don’t leave anyone hanging, follow up with something that could help guide them in their business endeavors. If you take initiative and show follow through, your network will follow suit.

 

4. Bring Something to the Table

An active professional network should be beneficial for everyone involved, it doesn’t work if everyone isn’t lending a helping hand. Providing insight, referrals, and offering free services are gestures your colleagues won’t soon forget. Your network will be more likely to return the favor, not because they feel pressured to, but because they want to.

 

Expanding your circle isn’t hard if you put yourself out there, especially when you already have traits in common with your colleagues! This helps to make connecting easy, and will help build your network to new heights. At the end of the day, you should feel like you have surrounded yourself with strong professional connections and a few new friends you can count on, who can also count on you.

 

All the Best,

Cindy

 

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