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Building and Maintaining a Network

They say that your professional network is your most valuable asset but how do you actually go about building and maintaining one? There are many ways you can be memorable about yourself.

Creating a strong professional network is not solely about collecting business cards or accumulating LinkedIn connections. It is about fostering genuine relationships based on trust, mutual support, and shared interests. From former colleagues and industry peers to mentors and influencers, each connection brings a unique set of experiences and expertise that can contribute to your professional growth as well as offer advice and career growth.

By proactively engaging with your network and offering support in return, you can establish a reputation as a valuable resource, fostering long-lasting connections that will support you throughout your career journey. In the following sections, we will briefly explore effective strategies to build and maintain your professional network, enabling you to navigate the ever-evolving job landscape with confidence and purpose. Note that this section is mainly targeted towards in-person networking.

Networking Out of Work #

One of the most valuable things is to meet people outside of your circle of coworkers and managers. In order to effectively network, the more thought and effort you put into it, the more rewards you will reap. It is not about who has the most business cards, but more so who can create meaningful conversations. We could say just to “be thoughtful” but there are many more specifics that we will cover.

Developing Mutual Trust #

All relationships are built on trust. In order to build an effective network, you want to demonstrate integrity and respect. After all, you want to surround yourself with people you enjoy spending time around. The same goes the other way; be someone that attracts other people who want to be around you and learn from you. That being said, your reputation is extremely important for building a network. One can compare their reputation like a jar of water. Everyone’s reputation (water) is crystal-clear. However, once something negative comes along (food dye) and tarnishes your reputation (water), it becomes very hard to remove the traces of that. No matter how much more good you do, that coloring will always be there in some capacity.

That being said, it is extremely hard to build a good reputation and maintain it, while it can be extremely easy to tarnish your picture to others. You want to be trusted by the other party before they start opening up their career resources and connections with you.

Give More Than You Take #

While many people think about “What can you do for me,” building a network works the other way around and becomes “What can I do for you.” Some ways to implement this is connecting new acquaintances with people who already exist in your network. Doing so allows you to both expand your network, and strengthen previous relationships. Additionally, don’t keep track of favors you do for others. Little do you know that slowly, it will all be reciprocated in the future. Don’t be afraid to ask for introductions to other people as well that you may have an interest in.

Frequently Keep in Touch #

If you don’t take the effort to maintain that connection, it will slowly fade away and will once again just be an acquaintance. You want to demonstrate that you are always thinking about the other person through small acts. Some of our favorite ways are:

  • Seeing an article that is relevant to their industry and sending it to them saying “Hey I know this was something new in the industry, thought you would like to check it out!”
  • Wishing them on well known holidays and birthdays.
  • Offering to meet up with them for coffee or lunch if you find yourself in the nearby vicinity.

Networking In Work #

What is much less known, however, is that there is a valuable network of people in your current workplace as well. From experienced managers to recent graduates, each person carries a unique story that you can learn from. We cover some tips to network internally as well to create the best impression you can in work.

Scheduling Coffee Chats #

One of the best ways you can learn about a company upon joining is through scheudleing coffee chats to meet people within your organization and company. A coffee chat is usually a 30-40 minute chat (with or without coffee) to learn more about careers, day-to-day duties, etc. Additionally, it’s a good way to get your name out there in the department.

To find suitable people to talk to, a great way is to use Microsoft Teams (or internal tool of choice) to look at the organizational structure. From there, you can see who reports to who and find people with potential common work interests.

Being Resourceful and Visible #

Don’t be afraid to take ownership in work and offer to help where space allows. The business world is a complex world with so many different intricacies to be mindful of. At the end of the day, everyone just wants to look good with their work. Don’t be afraid to help someone out to finish up that deadline or get a task done.

You want to make sure that your work is visible for other members of senior leadership to observe. In meetings, make sure you are actively participating by either answering questions or taking notes and forwarding it to others.

All in all, there are so many ways for you to be resourceful and visible in your company while delivering value. It is up to you to find the best ways!

Conclusion #

In conclusion, building a strong professional network is an indispensable asset in today’s competitive job market. By investing time and effort into cultivating meaningful connections, you open doors to a wealth of opportunities, knowledge, and support. Networking is not just about what you can gain—it is also about what you can contribute.

Your network is not just a means to an end; it is a valuable asset that can enrich your career and lead you towards success. So, start building and growing your network today, Your professional horizons will expand, opportunities will unfold, and your career will flourish.