How To Build Your Network
Updated: Mar 20
In week one, we discussed why networking is so important. This week we are focusing on how to build your network. The first question many people ask is how do I grow my network as I don’t know many people. Knowing where to find contacts for your network is an important first step.
Start thinking about possible contacts for your network using the following list:
Your family members and their friendship networks (They don’t need to have jobs to be part of your “Professional Network”.)
Everyone you have ever worked with, past and present. Including colleagues, managers, volunteers, clients etc.
People who were with you at school/university. Teachers and Lecturers count, too.
People you meet out and about in your community. Maybe while walking the dog, shopping or attending a local street festival.
If you have children, anyone you meet via your child’s activities, nursery/school, sports events etc .
People you meet while practicing your hobby, whether it is jogging in the park, walking or going to the gym.
Remember networking is about creating a connection, establishing a relationship. Get to know the person before asking for anything. Let the conversation be about them and ask what you can do for them, not just thinking about what they can do for you.
Do you use Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn? Spend time identifying useful people on these platforms and if you only know these contacts on Facebook or Instagram then try to connect with them on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is one of the most popular work-related professional social networks.
Create and maintain a strong professional profile on LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com), Facebook or Instagram. Participate in the largest email discussion groups and try to connect with the key influencers within that group. This will help you build up your industry knowledge. Try to establish relationships with influential people within these groups as in time they may invite you into their network, which could open other doors for you. Remember to keep your own LinkedIn profile (job history, recommendations) up to date so you create a good impression when someone reads your LinkedIn profile.
Attend relevant events
Industry conferences, trade shows and careers fairs are a great way of meeting lots of relevant people in one place and expand your network. Identify and engage with the most promising contacts and don’t let the conversation end without agreeing a further meeting outside of the event. Of course, this meeting or follow up communication cannot happen without obtaining their contact information which you must ask for. Ask for the best way to stay in touch: telephone, email, LinkedIn?
It is important to spend time building your network as the wider you can build your network and the more often you use it, the better it works. Networks need to be maintained regularly (even when you're in employment) to get them to work effectively for you. Often great opportunities come along when you least expect them. By keeping up to date with your network on a regular basis, you are widening your horizon and increasing your chances of finding out about exciting new opportunities.
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