It’s well known that networking significantly increases career opportunities, however, how can you improve your efficiency in this domain?
Here are a few simple rules I made up over time…
#1. Build your network when you don’t need it !
If you start to think about your network only when you need to ask for a favor or even simply an advice, it’s too late. A network builds over time and the more you give and connect with your relations without purpose, the stronger the link becomes with them and they will surely be there if you ever need them.
#2. Constantly nurture your network
Volunteer your assistance
Always think about the value you can bring to the table and offer to your contacts. Then take the next step and proactively share this value with your network. By the way, social media tools are great at facilitating and speeding up some these networking aspects such as being alerted when relations change jobs, move up, acquire new skills, get older… It can be appropriate if done sincerely to congratulate your contact upon such events depending on your closeness with him or her. Giving recommendations is also a favor that deepens the relationship provided that you really can recommend the person for a skill or expertise that you have personally witnessed in them.
#3. Diversity is as important as Focus and Depth
While not forgetting to grow your internal network within the company, it is often the case that internal visibility grows with external recognition and networking (participation in events, delivering presentations, writing articles in newspapers, books, posting blogs, twitting…). Indeed, your network depth and richness will certainly put in evidence some opportunities for you (new industries, new markets, new job families…). I will also open a few doors and identify job openings (before they are even posted). Get out of your comfort zone, meet people from other companies, industries, regions, countries…
Let’s also keep in mind that your overall network includes both « on » and « off » line relations. While very often, people you meet face to face are also part of your online networks, it may not always be the case and human face to face interactions should never be undervalued as they remain often richer types of interactions.
For example, one of the key person to enrich your network is your mentor(s) as he/she/they can help to fast track your progression. And, it’s a good idea to ensure that you meet regularly face to face with this person as not everything can nor should be written online…
I’m sure that you built up your own rules over time and I’m curious to learn about these if you accept to share them in the comments section of the blog.
Image courtesy of Phanlop88 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
For me, networking with a purpose, remaining centered on my true areas of interest and always looking for ways to add value to my networked colleagues, friends and business contacts has proven to be very efficient, fulfilling and satisfying for all.
Note: It also is a good way to manage your online identity, reflecting on what you want to be remembered for whenever your name is mentioned.
Don’t miss this TED Video on what makes life happier in the long run !