Network building is essential in furthering your career both
internally and externally. Being really
good at your job is a great start, having a solid network can be the difference
between getting a new position and being passed over. A professional network is a social network
focused solely on business interactions and relationships rather than including
personal, non-business interactions. The
most important person in your network is you.
The best way to build your network is to make yourself someone worth
networking with. Be good at your
job. Be a good teammate. Work well in collaborative groups outside
your immediate team and department. All
of those activities will make it much easier for you to network in your
office. Once you have established or
reestablished your professional reputation in the office you are now ready to
expand your network.
Are friends and relatives automatically in your network?
Yes! How active they
are in your network depends on you. Talk
to them about where you are professionally and where you would like to go. They are your biggest fans and will be your
best advocates so the more they know about you and what you are capable of the
better equipped they are to introduce you professionally in their circles.
Where can you network?
Networking events can be tricky. It can be a challenge especially if you aren’t an extrovert to successfully network at an event. That being said, they are worth the effort and if you decide to attend one bring plenty of business cards. If you don’t have any employer provided feel free to make your own, you can get 500 for around $10 plus shipping. The best way and most effective way to network is through an introduction from a friend. Dinner parties, holiday gatherings and socials provide an ideal setting to meet and remember people you are adding to your network. Working a room full of strangers at a club happy hour or lounge at a networking event may not appeal to you but an event at someone’s home could be a much better fit.
How do I use my network?
Who you know professionally can either be a gift or a curse for your career. Knowing or not knowing the right people can cost you thousands of dollars so the key is to again make sure you yourself are network worthy and that you are taking advantage of both planned and unplanned networking opportunities. When you are looking to move into another position at your current employer it can help you connect with the hiring manager yourself or through someone who has their ear. You can find out when positions are coming before they are open for application if your network is strong enough and you can use it to gain insight into the position and what the hiring manager is looking for in the role. Outside your job you can let people in your network know you are looking to make a change. There are several email templates online that you can use to make the announcement and tips on how to reach out to your network most effectively. LinkedIn is an effective tool to use to manage your network. It allows you to connect with people you have worked with and gone to school with in a professional way.