Let’s get connected: the power of networking
I am a firm believer in the power of networking, for yourself and the community around you. Every significant role in the progression of my career has been through networking. Even changes in my husband’s career point directly back to one person who gave a personal referral. We are not unique, there are thousands and thousands of stories like ours.
Networking isn’t only about gaining a new job or sales meetings. It’s also about learning, staying current in your industry or your role and being a connector. I love networking not just for my own personal growth, but also for connecting others into meaningful relationships. And while we all agree on the value, it’s hard to execute and keep momentum.
If you’re looking for motivation to get started, here are some numbers for you. GrowMap reports 88% of professionals consider networking to be crucial in furthering their careers. And 61% of professionals agree that regular online interaction with their professional network can lead the way into possible job opportunities, according to LinkedIn.
Now you may find that you’re missing out, so let’s explore some ideas on how to grow your professional network today.
Develop a strategy
It’s common practice to develop goals or strategies to achieve success. Build a plan to capitalize on your network. The act of developing connections in a professional medium, whether in-person or online, can be a daunting task. Your strategy around networking will vary throughout your career and it’s never too late to start.
Regardless of your current career status, you can get started right now on developing your strategy.
So now that you know your goals, be intentional. Admittedly, I came into the workforce prior to Facebook, LinkedIn, Zoom etc. When I began my career many years ago, I started with my parents’ network. I literally sat down and thought about the careers they had. I made some phone calls and voila, I entered the staffing industry.
My advice? First, connect with every person that you believe to be meaningful. However you make the connection, personalizing it is as easy as adding a small note to a LinkedIn invite. Still today I rarely accept LinkedIn invites that do not have a meaningful note or relay some type of mutual interest.
Early in your career, your network will be your friends, professors etc. It’s important that you don’t stop there. Be sure and include your parents’ friends and others in your circle. Of course, add any events, meet-ups and outings you take part in this list. In hindsight, I started my strategy late. And as my connections changed I should have been diligent in connecting with parents, school administrators and even team coaches over the years.
While we have been mostly connecting online these past two years, attending networking functions is another important step in being intentional. This enables you to generate positive connections, exchange contact information and follow each other on social media in person. And this continues the conversation past the event. I recommend going in with the intent to learn and connect, not to gain anything in return.
It’s a relationship
Networking is building relationships. And with any relationship, it takes work. The challenge now is to create a regular cadence of communication, whether it’s weekly, monthly or however you want to organize it.
Many of us use LinkedIn, Facebook and other forms of social media regularly. Ideally, take some type of action on a weekly basis. Be visible, take time to share articles, share your network’s relevant articles and comment. This takes only a few minutes a day. These are prime examples of direct and indirect relationship building. One requires direct focus and effort to reach out to the individual. The other is a passive way of promoting their work. We all care who engages with our content.
But you can’t stop here, take time to have conversations with your network, get out and have lunch, and ask every single time how you can help them. If they have a question or a request, follow through quickly. Ideally, you stay connected in a variety of ways and not just when you need something. With that said, you’ll be surprised how many people are willing to help and have conversations. I have had several scenarios when a lot of time passed between us talking and have been delightfully surprised by their willingness to help me. Of course, I would do the same.
Know your audience
Now it’s time to focus on your audience. Relating with people from a variety of backgrounds, positions and experiences will result in a variety of benefits in your career.
Having active knowledge of who you connect with is obviously important, but how important? Jobvite reports that 23% of people send resumes through friends or former colleagues. These active connections can lead to potential new opportunities. Developing your audience also leads to innovative ideas, mentorships, brainstorming sessions and more.
As you can see, I am a firm believer in the power of networking. The benefits are too great to ignore on a professional level. In my own personal journey, networking has brought me nothing but success. Ultimately, what makes your network unique is the idea of people helping one another regardless of their company or stature. However you choose to begin, start building your network today and see where it takes you!
About the author
As Executive Vice President, Strategy, Tracey Klein is responsible for the overall growth strategy of the company and planning for the future of its workforce solutions. She has 30 years of experience creating strategic roadmaps for talent acquisition, innovating for next-generation service and product development, managing global partnerships and implementing workforce management process improvement strategies. Her distinguished career also includes being named to the Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) 2017 Global Power 100 Women in Staffing list. In her spare time, Tracey enjoys attending her son’s Lacrosse games, traveling, book club and, of course, spending time with her husband and teenage son.
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