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How to create and maintain an awesome professional network

Professional networking handshake
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Networking: the free resource at your disposal you never recognized

Networking is creating and nurturing long term relationships and connections with people for the benefit of both parties. Networking is one of the most important determiners of success in business and career. Your personal network is the group of people known to you who also know you. These are people with whom you regularly interact with for a certain cause which may be to share professional information, hang out and several others. Networking comes in mostly in professional fields. Networking is important for several reasons.

In todays world, it takes proper networking skills to be able to build relationships for job seekers, business people, graduates, etc. Your network not only serves to help you get a job or new client but also as a source of relevant information in your field of work and also a source of opportunities which you may have no idea about. The truth of the matter is that we share opportunities with people we know especially when we know that they have interest in that area. If the opportunities we have determine how successful we can become, why don’t you apply yourself to networking so that you can have more to choose from and share to others?

 

Business or professional networking

volunteer student bonding

Most of today’s jobs are not advertised and even if they are, it is just for the formality. This is because of the role word of mouth plays in carrying opportunities out to others. As a professional and/or a business person, networking will help you to make the necessary relationships and connections. Sometimes you may have relationships with people and there’s no foreseeable way that they can help you. People you meet don’t have to be able to help you immediately. We don’t only network simply we want the help of others but also to be able to help others. It may take time before you know how valuable someone Is to your professional or entrepreneurial future. But ultimately, you’d meet people who can either offer you help or have connections which can help you get a job or client. You don’t need to expect a lot. Just like you don’t depend on your friends all the time for things.

 

Online networking

Networking on Facebook
The internet has made it easy to network in recent times. Platforms like LinkedIn are specifically designed to help job seekers, employers, business and clients to find exactly what they want. LinkedIn has made it easy to get job referrals and other cool features. You should check it out. Other social media including but not limited to Facebook, twitter and Instagram are good for networking. You would need to have a certain target of people you want to network with. This will help you to determine the platform to choose. Once you choose your network take time to study how the network works. The social platforms are not all the same so make sure to know about how each works and you can start to make friends and partners for life.

 

Importance of networking

Making the job leap

1. Exposure to new people
Networking is mainly very important for the exposure it provides both parties in the relationship. Various fields are changing. New thought leaders continue to emerge. I believe you would agree with me that you haven’t seen it all in this life. You could always benefit from some exposure be it an opinion, a new relationship which changes your life or getting a job. The exposure from a wide network of people is basically limitless. There is this saying that your network determines your net worth. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

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2. Access to opportunities
It is highly likely that your current job was as a result of some connection. Most jobs do not get advertised anymore because of how word of mouth spreads quickly. The people with the well developed and wide networks ends up getting all the opportunities. This is why networking is important. It allows you to leverage those you know to have access to such opportunities that you would otherwise have no idea about and consequently never benefit from.

 

3. Opportunity to help others
It is to get caught up with how making new connections can land you that job of your dreams. One thing I believe we should focus on when making connections is to focus on what we can do for them. When the time of our need genuinely comes and we ask it won’t be difficult for them to make sacrifices just to see us get what we want. So next time you meet new people don’t be in a hurry to ask for job placements and stuff like that else they may even think you are an opportunist. Take it slow. Have fun with it. Cheers.

 

4. Access to new information, industry practices and ideas
It may surprise the wealth of information you may find from people. These incudes things that you may not even find on google. The truth of the matter is everyone can quote statistics and other information from online but insights are a different ball game. In the form of opinions and discussions, you can learn a lot from people who work in your field.

 

5. Expand your circle of influence
Have you ever been somewhere you knew absolutely nobody? We face that from time to time. However, with good networking skills you are always expanding your circle. This will allow you to be able to start to attend events where you know people and you don’t have to feel alone. Expanding your network will bring several benefits as well that you never thought of.

 

6. Boost your self-esteem
I’m pretty sure this is the least of importance you expected to see on here. As an introvert, networking can help reduce the tension on you and help you feel homely. Starting conversations with random people will help you feel better in the setting and you wouldn’t have to feel bad about yourself. This ill boost your self-esteem especially when you get asked question for your opinion. It simply makes you feel valued and belonging.

 

Who should you have in your network?

Professional network

1. Decision makers
Decision makers could be heads of institutions, human resource managers and other executives who stand in the position to help you with what you may require at that time. Let’s say you want a job; you may focus on finding recruiters and human resources managers who can help you out.

2. Sources of information
As a professional, it is important that you have a circle of connections you get to discuss news and latest developments about your industry with. This will help you stay updated and at the same time get their opinions about those latest developments. These will help you to create your own opinion.

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3. Fans
For celebrities and upcoming celebrities, it is important to have people who support you by promoting your works and help you grow by giving you constructive feedback to hep you hone your craft.

 

Effective Networking Tips and strategies

1. Start with your field of knowledge and start by saying hello
It is going to be difficult if you start a conversation with a topic you are not familiar with. It may intimidate you or make you feel unknowledgeable. It is best if you start with a topic you are comfortable with. Make sure. One of the easiest ways to start a conversation is to simply say hello. You may introduce yourself once the other party responds to your greeting.

2. Compliments always work when honest
Complimenting them would give them the confidence to talk t you and make them feel better about themselves. Compliments don’t have to be dishonest. Look through and find a compliment which would do the job and shoot your shot. If the compliment is dishonest, they’re likely to know. So, keep it real and honest. Also don’t go for e very generic compliment. It will only make them feel they have been flattered.

3. Make a timely entry into conversations
Timing is particularly important when the conversation is in group. Make sure to enter in a lowly manner so you do not disrupt the conversation. Make sure to not enter with opinions which might be unpopular and bring the conversation to a halt. Enter when it is favorable and when the time is right, you can bring forward your opinions and personal ideas. Try to stick to news, industry innovations and things which won’t bring contention.

4. Say their name
When they introduce themselves to you, try your best to mention their name to their own hearing. Thus, will first of all help you to remember the name and it will secondly make them feel good. We all want to hear our names mentioned. Don’t deny them that small feel good moment.

5. Have your complimentary cards ready?
You may say they wont even use them blab blab. But complimentary cards are a good way to get their contact for a follow up later. They may not give you a call but they are likely to reciprocate the gesture. This will get you their contact as well. Then you have the ball in your court to do the follow at a later date.

6. Be yourself
There are times I feel like a fish out of water in gathering but I have come to realize that there is nothing better being myself everywhere. Just trying to live as you think others expect you to is the source of all the tension and pressure you have. Be yourself and make the effort to network. You’d find that people like you more than you think.

7. Network often and on purpose
The secret to becoming a master is practice. Excellence is the child of consistent practice and improvement. So, try to practice your networking skills anytime and anywhere you can.

8. Follow up
It easy to get caught up in the daily hustle and bustle that you forget about all those wonderful connections you made. Try to call them and find out how they’re doing and maybe make an appointment if there’s the need to meet them up.

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Maintaining your network

how to develop your skills

1. Be honest
I believe that in everything we do, we should always be honest about our dealings. It is not an easy thing to do. Its what will help you build that long lasting connection. This important because when dealing with people they look at our level of integrity. If enough people get to realize that you are not trustworthy, no one will soon like to relate with you because of the reputation you have gained for yourself. So, in whatever you do, be honest about happenings and you shall find good relationships and connections.

2. Maintain and respect boundaries
This is especially crucial when you just got to know each other. Make sure to make no assumptions until you are well acquainted with them to be able to tell. Respect their time, and make sure your time with them has some value to them and yourself so no one feels cheated off. Try to reciprocate gestures for that matter. Often you can reciprocate kind gestures with high value ones.

3. Seek knowledge
Depending on the kind of connection you may want to learn on a consistent basis from your connections especially when you are both professionals in the same industry.

4. Be a source of information
As you receive new information, knowledge and insights try as much as possible to also provide value to them.

Mediums to build your network

1. Seminars and events
2. Through your already existing network
3. Social media
4. Volunteering

Limitations to proper and efficient networking

lady feeling down and bad for herself
1. Your mindset
It is always in your mind. The mind is a tool and as a typical tool it does what we want to use it for. In some way, we try to sabotage our growth by limiting believes which prevent us from networking with others and trying to expand our connections.

2. Limiting the circles of your network
The truth is you cannot be sure who will be helpful in your future and who will not. So, as you make new connections try not to limit yourself. Anyone could be the person to help you or who you could help. Cast your net wide. Having a lot of friends and associates is never a bad thing. It adds to your social capital.

3. Not being proactive enough
It is sad that sometimes we wait until we want something before, we start reaching out to people. At that moment we are desperate and people do not like to deal with separate people. Being proactive constitute making the connections before you happen to need help from them. That way, you will be well acquainted and they won’t feel like they are helping a stranger.

4. Not following up initial contact
This one small way to lay waste all the work you did initially. Try to establish contact on the given contact details through text or phone call to get acquainted on that form of contact so you can always keep the conversation ongoing.

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