If you ask any top Business Professional or CEO how they reached where they are today, you will discover about their vast Professional Network which has taken them there.
Professional Networking is an important skill not only to generate job search leads & opportunities but also facilitates business problem solving, sourcing vendors & buyers & recommendations to prospective employers.
People find networking to be a very overwhelming task and are hesitant. It isn’t that complicated. Irrespective of if you are just starting to build up or you already have an existing network, below are 8 simple steps which will strengthen your Professional network –
1. Join or Start College Alumni Network
This is the simplest and most easily accessible forum for beginners. Almost all Universities and colleges have an Alumni Association, forums, Chapters, portal, or WhatsApp group. Join these groups and participate actively in discussions of your interest. Get connected to the Alumni Chapter of your city & connect with senior Alumni working in the areas of your interest. In case, your college doesn’t have a group like this, take the lead and make one. Many jobs that are not published in the public domain & filled in through referrals are often grabbed through the Alumni Network.
2. An impactful LinkedIn Profile
94% of Recruiters are using LinkedIn for sourcing potential candidates. According to Social Media experts, if you have a powerful LinkedIn Profile your name would reflect on top, if searched on Google. An impactful LinkedIn profile is the primary step to build a strong network. Most people are very casual in updating their LinkedIn profiles. Few elements of such a powerful profile include
- A Professional Photograph
- An impactful Profile headline
- A well-written profile summary
- Recommendations from Stakeholders
- Proper Educational background with correct Degree names, etc.
3. Create Visibility
जो दिखता है वो बिकता है।। Means something that has visibility sells. Creating your visibility on the Networking forums by blogging, commenting, sharing your views is not a one-time activity. This needs to be done on a regular basis to enhance your presence. Start participating actively on LinkedIn – comment on Articles & Informative posts, blogs, and other discussions. People who are already working, need to increase their visibility in their industry too. It is often seen that people who get noticed get the best assignments.
4. Carry A Job Search Mindset
Most people put their best foot forward for Networking only during the job search. But even if you are not looking for a job, spend time over building connections on LinkedIn, participate in Job fairs, attend professional conferences & revisit your old contacts from the previous job by dropping them emails or one-liner messages. You will be surprised to notice how this technique can help you make a larger network. Make it a point to devote 15-20 minutes regularly to this activity.
5. Attend meets, conferences, Industry Events, etc.
Attending conferences is a great way to expand your professional as well as a social network. It is always convenient and comfortable to interact with people you already know. But the aim of visiting these events should be to interact with strangers, though you might feel uncomfortable. When you meet new people, make sure to exchange Business cards or contact details & store these contacts in an organized fashion in your cardholder or mobile phone. You may also add a few lines of description to their name if you tend to meet multiple people with the same job profiles. It is a great gesture to send an email in the next 2-3 days of your meeting.
6. Be Genuine
The best network is the ones that are developed without the intention of any gain or profit. Sometimes people are too impatient to ask for help. A professional relationship takes time to develop. You should first think about what you can give to your network rather than what you could gain from them. If you genuinely start giving to your network, you will not have to ask for help. Stay in touch with your network.
7. It’s Ok to ask for help
Don’t be hesitant in asking people to introduce or recommend you to someone in their network. People are always happy to help provided we ask for one, as rightly said in this verse of the Bible –
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye. shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you”.
8. Pay it forward
The real secret of Professional networking lies in being able to help others by paying it forward. Continue the circle!!
If you have been introduced by someone, introduce others in your network. People withdraw thinking that being at Frontline level what difference would it make. This is just a perception. You could introduce vendors, or recommend people from your Alma Mater, previous company, or friend circle in your network. Remember, what you give to others, come back to you 10X.
Building a network at the early stages of your career always takes you a long way!!