How to Build a Network – Social and Professional
“How to build a network” is something I paid attention to only after getting a shock from my employer. Building a social and professional network is very important for our survival. I learned this fact the (very) hard way. I was in a company since my internship days and put all my days and nights to give my best to that job. The job and the company was the important part of my world.
One day, I received a severe jolt when the company laid me off. My world came crashing down as I never thought in my dreams that I would be sacked from a job I loved so much.
To add to this, I had a young family to support. But, at that moment, I could not think of anything; I was angry and bitter and packed my belongings in the office and came back home.
However, when I composed myself and started thinking of my next steps, I realized that I knew a few people who could help me get a new job in the same field. It happened this way because I was in a position in the company where I had to meet many people as part of my job and, thankfully, some of them became good friends of mine.
I was proud to have such a network of people; professional and personal that eventually helped me out during those struggle-filled days. Professional networking can help you gain information, find career opportunities, get advice from trusted sources and support your career.
So how to build a network? Use these excellent tips to develop your network.
Identify the clusters in your network
With constant effort, you can have a large network of people belonging to different industry areas and different levels. The first step to build a network is to identify the network you already have and start extending it further.
Make sure that your network carries professionals from a variety of areas, different companies, and career levels and from different perspectives.
Tap your contacts everywhere
Remember that even an acquaintance can turn into a rich contact. Therefore, remember to identify the potential of your contacts and to look for them everywhere; college friends, clubs, any organization you are part of and more. You can join a professional association and attend their events on regular basis.
You can create contacts within the company also as many companies arrange various training events, guest speakers and other events which give you opportunity to connect.
Work on each opportunity
To build your network will definitely take time. Whenever you get the opportunity, focus all your energy to tap your resources. For instance, if you are going to attend a conference, try to mingle with professionals over there.
Don’t feel hesitant introducing yourself. Make sure you come back with business cards of those whom you met there.
Plan your strategy
If you are going to attend an event, be sure to list out what you are going to gain from that event. Are you going to enhance your professional knowledge? Are you looking for new contacts in your work area? Or you are going to find someone to invest in your new project?
Before you go to the event, do some preparation. Know who the speaker is. It can give you an idea about what kind of people and companies will be there to attend the event. You can even prepare a questionnaire for the prospective experts you will meet there.
To build a network takes time
Not every expert will share their knowledge at once in just a single meeting. It takes time and personal effort to make people comfortable with you and build your network.
Once you get an initial response, move forward by contacting people personally or via emails. Make eye contact, shake hands firmly, smile and exchange business cards.
Read this blog to learn – How to make a good first impression
Follow up and keep in touch
To keep your network alive, it is important that you keep in touch with the people you know. Networking is for mutual gain. When you gain something from a person, try to think of the ways you can return the favor.
For instance, if your contact helped you get a new project, you can send a thank-you note immediately, invite them to a dinner or send a gift or whatever you can think of.
However, in your quest to make contacts, make sure that you do not annoy the person unnecessarily as it can work against you.
Go ahead and start networking! Hope these tips help you build a network you can be proud of.