I read recently that building your professional network should be approached in the same way as growing a bonsai tree – you need to prune and tune it over time. Networking isn’t collecting ‘friends’ on facebook, or seeing how many followers you can get on Twitter – both have their merits, but true networking is about building relationships, not numbers. So in the spirit of the festive season, here are some tips to help you demonstrate your networking nous and fine-tune your most valuable asset…
With the holiday’s fast approaching, now is an excellent time to review your network and think about what you can do to give back to the people who have supported you this year. It’s also an excellent opportunity to think about the people you want to get to know, and what you could do now to forge an introduction and take advantage of the ‘season of goodwill’!
Getting your name ‘out there’ is all well and good, but if you want to create a truly effective network you need to get to know the people in your circle of influence, and that means having conversations, meeting face-to-face, being willing to give more than you receive, and investing time and effort in building a relationship, rather than a transaction.
There are some very simple and cheap ways to tune and prune your network effectively: –
1. Hit Forward
Every time you come across a good article or interesting website forward it on to someone in your network who you think would benefit. This thoughtful approach costs nothing, and shows your contact that you’re thinking of them.
Life’s busy and time flies – we all have the same ‘problem’. But it’s the people who make time to catch up with their contacts, to grab coffee or sit down for a quick lunch that create the opportunity to build long-lasting and rewarding relationships. We all have the same amount of time in the day, it’s how you choose to use is that makes the big difference.
Just because you’re building your professional network doesn’t mean that all you should talk about is work, work, work. As the saying goes “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. Make the effort to find out what the people in your network like doing outside of work – have a proper conversation and learn about their families, their hobbies, where they go on holiday and what personal goals they have. It’s this sort of information that helps build stella relationships.
I got an email last week from one of my LinkedIn contacts who wrote “Thanks to you I have been connected with some great people. Thank You”. Such a short, concise and yet powerful message that left me with a nice warm, fuzzy feeling. It would have taken about 60 seconds to write that email, but the impact on me has lasted far longer. My contacts name is stamped clearly in my mind, and if there’s anything I can do to help him I will – all because of a little ol’ email. Send someone a message today to say ‘Thank You’, pop a card in the post to say ‘You’re Great’, or better still, pick up the phone and say a few words – your effort will be much appreciated and long remembered.
Too many people are focussed on what they want out of a networking relationship, rather than what they can give Don’t fall foul of this fundamental flaw! As it’s the season of goodwill make the effort to ask someone you know if they need any help. They might say no, and that’s fine, at least you asked, but if they say ‘yes’ be ready and willing to do what you can for them and don’t expect anything in return – simply believe in good karma!
Put these steps into place now and start enjoying more rewarding relationships. Remember – your network is your net worth so be willing to invest time and energy into the people who matter.
Written by Faye Hollands – Director at Outshine Consulting. Faye is an accomplished Career Coach and Time Management Specialist who has successfully coached countless clients on how to create a career they love, get more done in less time, and achieve personal and professional success. You can contact Faye on +61 2 8323 4335 or email email@example.com
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