Building a resourceful professional network – six tested and proven tips
Love to give your career a boost? Find out why building a winder professional network can help – and six ways to do it.
Everyone wants to be at the top of the career ladder, and you would be surprised by what some people would do to advance in their industry. However, you don’t need to hurt anyone or lose your self-respect to get a promotion or expand your business.
Building a vibrant and resourceful professional network will help you advance your career better than most other strategies. Here is everything you need to know about the concept of professional networking.
What is a professional network?
A professional network is composed of people who share professional interests and are willing to lend their help. Everyone in the group is resourceful in one way or another, ideally. Additionally, everyone is genuinely willing (almost obliged) to lend you professional help.
You may think of a professional network as a room full of notable figures who are willing to take your business ID cards and actually use them for your (and their) benefit. However, you are the head of this group, and it is your duty to ensure that the group’s members actually lend their help. This is why it is important to build a strong professional network, as discussed in detail below.
Six proven tips to help you build a helpful professional network
How many people in your professional circles would come to your aid if you called for help? You never have to worry about your calls for help going unanswered if you have a strong professional network.
Building a strong professional network can be easy or complex, depending on how you approach it. It takes more than just striking a conversation with your colleagues at the office. It also doesn’t require stalking people you would like to connect with.
Here are six easy and reliable tips for building a strong and resourceful professional network:
1) Build a strong profile and reputation
It is difficult to advance your career or business when no one knows about you. The people who can help open up new opportunities will pass you by, regardless of how much potential you possess. You need to make your presence felt.
Building a strong reputation is the best way to make yourself visible. Your good work will speak on your behalf, and people in your professional circles will have no option but to notice. More importantly, excellence will get you noticed by the right people.
You will need to become better than the experts in your industry, ideally. As such, find a way to improve your skills and expertise, put them to good use, and let your star shine for everyone to see.
2) Be active on social media
You don’t need to chase potential contacts down for professional networking – you can find all of them on social media from the comfort of your home or office!
Social media is an excellent tool for professional networking. It eliminates the physical, time, and distance barriers – you can even pursue contacts halfway across the world. It also makes it easy to find potential contacts outside your immediate circles. More importantly, it makes it easier for other potential contacts to find you.
LinkedIn is the most resourceful social media platform for professional networking – it is essentially built around professional networking. LinkedIn user profiles are designed for marketing your skills, and anyone that shares similar interests can find you on the platform. However, succeeding on LinkedIn also takes a smart approach.
On that note, it is also important to have a professional website dedicated to enhancing your reputation. Anyone should be able to find you online – and it is best if you decide what they read about you.
3) Nurture existing relationships
Professional networking is all about professional interaction. However, it shouldn’t disqualify the fact that the professionals you expect to help you are still people – not professional bots. They are relationships that should be nurtured just as properly as any other relationship.
Finding helpful contacts is just the first step to professional networking. The next step entails retaining these contacts by nurturing your professional relationships.
You will need to keep in regular contact with your contacts to keep the relationships alive. It also helps to come together every once in a while and discuss mutual interests in detail. For example, inviting a potential mentor or business partner for lunch featuring their favorite meal is a great way to bond and prey on their better side.
4) Attend conferences and networking events
It doesn’t matter the subject of a professional seminar or conference – attendees are guaranteed an opportunity for professional networking, much like world leaders make deals on the sidelines of global meetings such as the G7. To this end, networking events such as business conferences are a resourceful way of meeting potential contacts.
Everyone attending the event will share some of your interests. They will also share your ambition, and they will be looking for an opportunity to add to their professional networks. More importantly, you don’t have to beat around the bush as the setting is ideal for talking about business.
It is not practical to attend every conference, so choose the networking events that you will attend wisely. There are two factors to consider when evaluating an event’s suitability: the topic of discussion and the notable figures in attendance.
5) Stay updated
Information is an invaluable currency in professional networks, but it is valuable only if it is fresh. For example, the latest analysis of the stock markets will help you make profitable trades before everyone gets in on the trend and the market moves in a different direction.
It pays to be in the know-how, so monitor developments in your professional circles closely. Being the custodian of fresh information will also increase your credibility in your professional circles, and more people will be willing to consult you and share what they know. However, ensure that your information is always accurate to avoid ruining your credibility.
6) Be helpful
Professional networking is all about mutual help between the members. However, many people do it because they expect to gain something from it. They are only in the group because they are confident in your ability to help – and they will quickly forget about you if you have nothing to offer.
Helping your contacts is in your best interests. It will score you many favors that you may need down the road, for starters. It will also help to build your credibility when people know that they can always come to you for help – it will paint you as an authoritative figure in your social circles and in the industry.
Professional networking is worth the challenge
Professional networking has its challenges – you have to get strangers to like you, after all. However, the rewards of a strong and resourceful professional network outweigh any challenges that you may come across.
Some of the most notable benefits of professional networking include the following.
You will need the right people’s recognition to advance in your career and business, as discussed earlier. However, you will need to be visible to become recognizable.
Professional networking is a positive way to become visible. The people in your professional network will recognize you, for starters. Additionally, they will help to spread the word to other people in their professional circles, further increasing the number of people who know about you.
Many of the tips on building a strong professional network will also go a long way in increasing your spotlight. For example, being updated and resourceful will make you the go-to person around your professional circles, and eventually in the industry.
Getting professional and personal support
You are only human, and so are your professional contacts. They deal with the same challenges that you face, and they can share their wisdom and offer a professional and personal shoulder to lean on.
The support from your professional network will help you overcome many of the challenges that you face at work. It will also help sharpen your creativity and problem-solving skills. More importantly, it will help to give you the confidence you need to overcome every other challenge that will come down the road.
Fresh information is invaluable, as explained earlier. No one has a monopoly on information, and every individual in your professional network can have something valuable to share. Fortunately, they will be willing to share with you since you are a part of their professional network.
Your professional contacts will help to keep you informed by sharing what they know. This will help you stay ahead of new developments and prevent nasty surprises.
Pursuing new opportunities
One of the disadvantages of seclusion is that you will always be among the last to learn of new developments, including opportunities that can help further your career. However, you will be among the first to learn about these opportunities from knowledgeable contacts.
More importantly, your credibility in your professional circles will improve your chances of qualifying for these new opportunities. Consequently, you will achieve the primary goal of furthering your career or business.
Ready to expand your professional network – and reap the rewards?
You have what it takes to be at the pinnacle of your career and professional circles – and you deserve it. However, you have to work for this incredible reward by building a strong, robust, and resourceful professional network. These professional networking tips have been tested and proven, and they will work for you, too.