Networking is an unparalleled skill for people (both young and old) to have. Large, open networks have the power to create countless opportunities for connection, career growth, creativity, and collaboration. You never know who will change your career or life the most, and it’s never too late to get started. To help you hone your own networking abilities, check out our 4 tips below.
Make networking a habit
Make networking a part of your lifestyle. Don’t do it only when you are looking for a promotion or a career change. Relationships take time to begin, develop, and flourish. Lasting connections, especially those that last a lifetime, take a lot of effort and work, and they certainly also take a lot of time. Therefore, it is a good idea to practice networking in your daily life, be it personally or professionally.
Think beyond your industry
Diversification will be to your advantage. Industries and careers are more fluid than ever, so having a network beyond your immediate skill set may give you a leg up when you plan your next career move. Networking is supposed to widen or broaden your reach, after all, and keeping it within tight confines defeats its very essence.
Remember it’s not only about you
A relationship is a two-way street, and a healthy and productive relationship is one where both parties benefit and receive value. Always remember that the other people in your network are in it for the same reason as you. If you hear of a business opportunity or a job opening in a company, let the people in your network who may be interested in that opportunity know about it. In order to receive value, you also have to provide or give value.
If your networking action plan involves you popping up only when there are events for networking, and then staying low and unseen the rest of the time, then that is not considered networking at all. Make sure that your presence is known. You know the saying “out of sight, out of mind”. If your contacts do not see you or hear from you, they are more than likely to forget you.
Remember, networking is building relationships that are the foundation for your career. It’s an investment that may yield returns over a longer period, and maybe even through another part of the network. The good thing is, these relationships are a portable asset that travels with you no matter where you go. That portability means it’s never a wasted effort, and also serves as a useful reminder to avoid taking a transactional approach, such as expecting immediate, on-the-spot results.
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