Is success all about who you know? Having a strong professional network can definitely propel your career to greater heights. It opens doors to exclusive job opportunities, business ventures and broader industry knowledge. That ‘somebody’ that you just met might hold the key to your future and present you with a life-changing opportunity! But how many of us are networking the ‘right’ way to reap the benefits? Keep in mind that networking is all about relationship-building and reciprocal relationships that go beyond networking events. Even something as trivial as going to the gym or connecting with someone on social media gives you the opportunity to expand your network. Opportunity doesn’t come knocking twice, so keep an open-mind and always be prepared to network!
A foolproof way to expand your network is to attend networking events. Be it alumni events, conferences or professional networking events, use this opportunity to expand your network. It gives you the opportunity to meet other professionals from your industry, as well as those outside of your industry. If you are not a social butterfly, go to these events with one or two other colleagues or friends whom you are comfortable with! The best part? They can help to connect you with important industry professionals and draw you into conversations.
Get Active On LinkedIn
Do you feel drained after a whole day of networking? Worried about the awkward silences during networking events? Use LinkedIn to connect with others! It’s every business professional’s best friend. If you are willing to put in the effort to update your Facebook and Instagram, do the same for your LinkedIn! Treat it like a social media platform for your professional career. Remember to make your presence seen and felt by keeping your LinkedIn profile up to date with your latest achievements (humbly of course!) and connecting with other industry professionals.
Go Beyond Your Industry
Don’t limit yourself to networking with just others in your industry! Everyone that you meet definitely knows something that you don’t, so get to know professionals outside of your industry. Who knows? They might be able to provide meaningful insights that can give you a better understanding of how different industries work together. Or maybe, they can ignite the purpose and passion within you and convince you to make a career switch!
Join An Interest Group
Think that networking events are forced and unnatural? Looking to go beyond the small talk and forge deeper relationships? Meet other like-minded industry professionals by joining an interest group. And no, it doesn’t have to be a board membership at an organisation. It can be something as simple as volunteering or joining a recreational club. This is one of the best ways to network as you get to engage in genuine conversations and know a person beyond their job position and title. (Find out how to advance your career with volunteering!)
Keep In Touch
Once you have forged a connection, remember to keep in touch! Networking doesn’t end just because the event is over. Don’t just keep business cards or remain as a connection on LinkedIn. Stand out and leave an impression by following up or keeping in contact once in a while. With the advent of technology, you don’t have to always meet up. A simple “How are you doing?” or sharing an article that might be of interest to the person is the first step. Lend a helping hand to your network if needed.
Networking takes time, practice and a whole lot of effort. You might not reap the benefits overnight, but think of it as an investment to your career that your future self will thank you for.