Grow your personal network
The festive season is over. The new year has started and some still follow their New Year’s resolutions. For me, 2019 is “the year of moving (up)”, being more physically active thanks to a bike and working on a variety of corporate and residential projects. The first part is all up to me while for the second, a strong network will be beneficial. Whether you’re looking for a new job this year or learn more about what’s happening in your industry, achieve more with a powerful network.
You may already have a solid network without even realising it. Your extended family, friends, colleagues, clients, project members, neighbours, mates from your gym, social clubs, your kids’ friends’ parents, and so on. To build and/or extend your network, we have 5 tips for you:
1. Define your objectives
It can happen to all of us. Our company gets acquired, we have to re-apply for our jobs and no matter how well we performed, we are being made redundant. Looking for a new job may seem daunting when the shock sits deep. Yet, a personal network is what may be exactly the way to secure a new role.
Perhaps you are rather looking at deepening your industry knowledge. Or want to find out more about the practices within your industry within your city.
You may be looking to develop your career further and are grateful for tips from individuals who are already in roles that you’re interested in.
As you start networking, be clear why you’d like to connect with individuals. Depending on your goal, you may need to be targeted in who you approach. For example, you can search on LinkedIn for Financial Controllers working in the manufacturing industry in your city can give you names of those individuals who can give you focused career advice.
2. Yet, it’s not always about what you want
Having said this, networking isn’t always about getting something from others. And just to be clear, it’s not about selling either.
Networking these days is much more. It’s about helping each other.
So just like you are looking to enhance your career, learn more about the industry or find a new role, ask yourself: “What value can I offer to my network?”
Are you the person with an expertise in landscape architecture? Are you the person who loves to share their knowledge and teach others more about interior design? Perhaps, you are the person who knows where to research for specific information? Are you the person who can connect others?
3. Reach out
You’ll need to be pro-active about building and expanding your network. New contacts won’t just show up on your door step.
All too often, I’ve seen people crying for a powerful network when they’re in a dilemma. As networking isn’t a once off activity, make it your mission to reach out to a new person once a week.
There are plenty of ways to contact. Business councils, the chamber of commerce, professional associations, alumni organisations, business groups arrange face-to-face networking events. Conferences, seminars, meetups focus on a particular topic and offer simultaneously the chance to network with participants.
Invite a particular person you’d like to learn more about out for a cup of coffee or lunch. You’d be surprised how many people will actually accept such an invitation. If they don’t have the time, ask for a phone call.
You can also start to network online. LinkedIn groups, Quora and industry-specific online forums are just three options.
Don’t forget social events like a sports game, volunteering or neighbourhood gathering. Or even your very own office pantry and cafeteria!
4. Build deeper relationships
Remember what we said above about no selling. The same is true to just handing out your business cards. Collecting the most number of business cards is not the objective of networking.
Show a genuine interest in the person in front of you. Ask questions about them, their work, industry, and also what they like to do outside of work. If you’ve researched them or seen their bio, what intrigued you about them? Why did you want to meet them in the first place?
If you’ve just met and don’t know how to get started, get their feedback on the event or the place where you’re meeting.
Listen more than you speak. You can show that you paid attention to them by asking questions based on what they said.
5. Follow up
When you’re meeting someone new, write down a few points about them on their business card. It will help you remember them easier and gives you something to talk about next time, again.
After attending a conference or a networking event, it’s too easy to put the business cards away. “I’ll get to it just before the weekend.” Don’t forget to follow up.
Send them a quick email or what’s app. If you’re the person who knows how research topics and can share a particular article with your new connection, send it to them now. If you mentioned being able to introduce them to a particular person, do it now.
It takes time to build up a great network and it takes time and effort to maintain these relationships. Put time in your calendar to call or email your contacts. Depending on your relationship, this may be once a quarter, every couple of weeks or even more frequently. You’ll find the right mix of staying in touch and exchanging information and if you’re uncertain, ask the other person what they prefer.
There are our 5 tips to create and strengthen your very own network. What has helped you when you were/are networking? Share your tip with the Organised Life and Mind community below. Can’t find learn more about you!
Until next time,