Networking involves interacting with other people face-to-face or via some other medium for assistance and support. You have a network, even if you do not call it that. We all make use of our network with varying degrees of success during the course of the day and over the span of our career. You are networking when you call a friend to tell them about a recent job opening in your company or when you give a referral to someone looking for a new massage therapist. The question is not how you network. The real question is how do you grow and make better use of your Network. Below are six tips to help you build and leverage your network:
Get a Positive Outlook
When you are in the midst of a transition and are finding it difficult to break into a new job, career, or industry, hiding under a rock will not help you achieve success. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. It is not a sign of weakness. Building a personal network means meeting, contacting, and maintaining relationships with people who have the ability to help you succeed. Because most people have found themselves in your position at one time or another, they can empathize with your situation and gladly offer assistance-whether it be arranging introductions or offering advice.
Identify Networking Venues
Networking opportunities are endless. In your local newspaper you can find networking events that range from job clubs to the local Sierra Club. You do not have to only attend job clubs when you are in transition. We rather you did not. It is more important to identify areas of interest and learn how to become a valuable member. If you do not feel comfortable going alone, get a few friends or colleagues to join you-but get out there! Make it a point to meet and talk to at least five new people. Follow up with the people you met in a quick next-day email. The goal is to make an impression so they will remember you the next time you contact them.
Create a Networking Matrix
Create a networking matrix so that you can identify people with a particular expertise in your network. You can compliment this matrix by adding new people to your contact list. There will come a time where you will want to contact these people again-whether it is for a reference or simple advice. Drop them a line regularly as to keep their contact information up to date. An example of a simple networking matrix is below:
|Financial Services||Manufacturing||High Technology||Communications|
|Marketing||Sarah Jennings||Robert Setts||Linda Ginac||Kara Prouser|
|Law||Laura Cranson||Haley Robertson||Chris Callemiet||Missy Rider|
|Finance||Jessy Wells||Michael Thompson||John Wright||Steve LeBlanc|
|Engineering||Tommy Watts||Scott Traner||Frank Ginac||Donald Trist|
Communicate with your network every one or two months if possible via email, coffee, formal or informal events. This will keep you fresh on their minds when they hear of a new job opportunity or company that may interest you.
Make Specific Requests
When asking people in your network for assistance, be specific about your request and expectations. People can only help you if they really know what you need. If they do not know what you are asking for, you will just end up frustrating everyone.
Mind your Manners
No matter how someone has helped you, it is important to say “thank you” to those who have helped you out! A simple hand-written note, email, or small gift expressing your appreciation says it all. This will go a long way to building long-lasting relationships.