Now more than ever, networking is a complicated necessity. We have our social networks online, our relationships at work with our colleagues, and a professional network of potential contacts. Building our network of professional relationships can lead to more job advancement opportunities, deepen our industry knowledge and increase our job satisfaction.
So with multiple ways to connect with other professionals, how do you make the most of your network?
Your Social Networks
Online social networks allow you to connect with a wide variety of people from all over the world. This is a huge benefit if you’re looking to share information about common interests or trying to build a network of people in your industry. To get maximum personal benefit from your social networks, make sure you’re using them appropriately and regularly. This might seem like obvious advice, but how many of us have dormant Facebook or LinkedIn accounts that we only check up on every so often?
If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile, now is a great time to set one up. LinkedIn allows you to connect with other people in your industry and beyond and is a great place to link up with people who might be able to help you professionally.
Once your account is set up and your profile is completed, you can begin sharing information with your contacts like useful blog posts and industry insights. Even better, if you’re the person creating this content, you can easily share your work with your personal connections. Make sure to engage with your contacts by liking their posts, endorsing their work, and commenting on the information they share. By being an active member of your online community, you’ll gain new contacts and begin to be recognized as a trusted voice in your industry.
A quick word on your other personal social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: If you choose to share these networks with your professional colleagues, make sure you’re keeping your shared content work-appropriate or that you have taken steps to limit what your work contacts can see. Many people prefer to keep their work connections exclusively on LinkedIn to avoid any professional missteps.
Your Face-To-Face Contacts
Nothing beats the true connection you can make with another person when you sit down and have a conversation with them. This is why, for all the good that social networks can bring to our professional lives, nothing beats an old-fashioned face-to-face meeting. Many of us prefer social interaction so connecting with people on a personal level is valuable, especially at work.
If you’re looking for professional advice or making a career move, getting some face time with a trusted advisor or mentor can be just the thing you need.
Lacking a good network of personal contacts? Not a problem! There are plenty of professional associations and other groups that you can join, and many workplaces offer happy hours or other company-sponsored events where you can meet new people. If these prospects sound too intimidating, you can instead start by inviting a colleague or manager for coffee or lunch. The most important thing to remember when meeting new professional contacts is to ask questions and be ready to listen. Your network will grow quickly if you’re the kind of person that makes people feel heard and valued.
Taking steps to build your professional network is not only a way to boost your career, it’s a great way to meet new people with whom you share similar interests. It’s easy to add friends or connections online but make sure you’re also doing the professional legwork to build your in-person network too!