Networking is the theoretically the act of forming and maintaining relationships with like-minded people who would help you expand your business. It is basically like having a group where you work with one another and help each other in achieving success. Professional networking is the extension of networking but with an aim to share data and advice with the people, who can assist you in your pursuit of professional goals and objectives, be it in a business or in a workplace.
There is a misconception that building a professional network is just about collecting business cards, passing résumés and asking people about jobs and business opportunities. While these may be a part of professional networking, there is much more to building a great professional network. Here’s a little insight on how to build an awesome professional network.
Hot connections are the way to begin
‘Hot connections’ include people who you know well and with whom you interact and/or meet often. It can be anybody who you are in regular touch with. They’re the best people who can lead you to new connections. Hot connections include friends, family, relatives, colleagues, etc.
Make a list of people you know
Start making a list of people you know. The list may include your friends, relatives, classmates, teachers, current and former colleagues and employers, your family doctors, service providers, acquaintances, and even friend of a friend. Among these pick and make a list of those who you think might be of help in your career or business.
Make friends at work and elsewhere
It is important that you make friends at your workplace and at places of activities related to your profession and business. Mingle with people who have interests similar to yours or something that is related to your career. In addition to helping you build a strong professional network, this will also help in expanding your social circle and provide you with confidence to approach people
Attend business conferences and social gatherings
Business meets and conferences are a great place to build your professional network as it gives an opportunity to get in touch with a number of people from different backgrounds and locations but with common interests and objectives. Social gatherings help you get acquainted with people through mutual contacts. Also, you can register yourself with some event organizing companies who can keep you updated about conferences or gathering happening in your interest area
Use Internet to its potential
The Internet provides various resources for networking such as online and web based job portals. These portals conduct online interviews and web-chat interviews which surely will help in connecting with recruiters of your industry. Internet chat rooms are also good sources of searching for people to include in your professional network.
Sign up on Social networking sites
Social networking sites are a great platform to strengthen your professional network. Social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, SkillPages and many others offer a great deal of networking opportunities through pages dedicated to specific kind of businesses or work and also provide contact details of recruiters and headhunters. You can follow these sites/pages to get in touch with the right people.
Join meet up groups
Almost all business sectors have meet up groups where people meet and discuss about current business trends. They also put forward their problems and try to help each other solving that. Joining meet up group is a great way of expanding professional network.
Manage your contacts ‘Smartly’
There are a lot of smart contact managers and apps (Cobook, Smartr, NextCall etc.,) that notifies you when people in your contact update/change their contact info or when people change jobs. Some contact managers will even notify you if you haven’t contacted someone in a long-time so that you can stay connected with your network.
Involve in the recruitments and hiring of your organization
When there is a job fair or a recruitment drive going on in your company, just try to assist your HR personnel in the process as there will be a lot of people with varied levels of experience in your industry attending these drives whom you can include in your professional network.
Don’t forget your Alumni associations
Alumni association is the easiest it can get to grow your professional network. After all, these people were your classmates and best buddies of your school, college or university going days. They can introduce you to people in their networks and vice versa.
Developing a great Professional network will not happen overnight, it is a continuous process which requires your constant involvement. With right combination of effort, smart work and patience, you’ll build an awesome professional network. Happy Networking!