LinkedIn is a tool for networking, but not a substitute. It allows you to stay informed about what your network is doing and easily contribute leads, information, support, and other information. Don’t confusion social media tools with building a genuine, professional relationship with another person.
There are formal networking groups and informal networking opportunities all around. Most people can identify three to five convenient opportunities without much effort. A networking opportunity isn’t always labeled as such. Informal networking can happen anywhere. Here are a few suggestions for formal and informal networking opportunities:
- Your own company or organization
- Trade and professional organizatoins
- Your alumni association
- Your hobbies or interests
- Local business and civic groups
- Professional networking organizations
- or start your own. . .
All professional relationships require care and tending. Like a farmer who tends his field, the effective networker should not expect immediate results. Good networking cannot be rushed. Here are some additional points to remember while building your professional network:
- Relationships are fragile and take years to build, but only seconds to destroy. Be mindful of the delicate nature of relationships.
- Do for others as you would like others to do for you.
- If you attend a networking event for the first time and are desperate to find a job, your desperation will make building a relationship dif cult.
- Don’t expect to take from a group before you have first contributed.
- Other people at a networking event may feel a sense of anxiety. Be the first to smile, shake someone’s hand and introduce yourself.
Do you dread networking? Does the thought of it make you anxious or uncomfortable?
Do you want to know the one secret to making networking fun? Here it is: Approach networking with an attitude of giving. Focus on how you can help other people.
Everyone has something of value to share. No matter their age, experience level, or current employment status, everyone has something to o er in a networking situation. You have former college classmates, current friends, and neighbors who work in a variety of industries and organizations. Perhaps someone in your network is an entrepreneur, went to graduate school, or worked overseas. I know that at some point in your life, you’ve visited a doctor, eaten in a restaurant, taken a vacation, or volunteered your time with a not-for-pro t or political organization.
Several years ago, I met a recent graduate at a networking event. At the time, I was almost 20 years older than he. We talked about his interests and my previous experience in the financial services industry—one of the few things we shared in common, at least on the surface. As the conversation progressed and he asked me about my current professional interests, we discovered that I was in the same business as his father and he made an introduction as a follow-up to our meet- ing. Neither of us could have anticipated this when we met.
Everyone has something to offer in a networking situation— no matter the difference in age or experience.
When it comes to mastering public speaking, there is no greater resource than Toastmasters International. Toastmasters International offers its members a venue for practicing communication and leadership skills.
Clubs meet regularly and members fulfill different roles at each meeting. There is a proven curriculum of increasingly more challenging topics, techniques, and formats. Fellow club members evaluate speeches for each other. They also give support and encouragement to speakers of all abilities. Toastmasters In- ternational has grown to 14,650 clubs in 126 countries since its founding in 1924.
I encourage you to join Toastmasters. Each club has its own personality, so visit several clubs to nd the one that best suits you. Visit the Toastmasters International website to nd a club near you. https://www.toastmasters.org/
Like any good investment, the hours you put into active networking will pay o well in your future and the bene ts are likely to multiply over time. Some of the many bene ts that may be ex- changed among people in your professional network include:
- Job opportunities
- Professional recommendations
- New customers, clients, investors, advisors
- New business partners
- Joint-venture opportunities
- Recommendations for professional services such as accountants, lawyers, graphic artists, or web developers
- News, trends, and important events in your industry or business community
- Referrals to other people who you may want to join your network
- Recommendations for personal service providers such as doctors, restaurants, vacation spots, and more.
You’ll notice that I said above, “the many benefits that may be exchanged among people.” I didn’t say, “the many bene ts that you may receive.” A professional network always involves give and take. And give usually comes first.
Developing your own professional network will lead to more success than almost anything else you do in your career.
Developing relationships with people who want to and are able to help you is a worthwhile investment of your time and resources. These are the people who will help when you need it most. is is a long-term investment of your time in building relationships with other people. Your professional network will be developed and maintained over your entire career.
Your professional network will be developed and maintained over your entire career. Actively participate in your network and help others, as you would like others to help you. Maintain these business relationships in good times and bad—while you are fully employed, unemployed, or in between. A strong professional network is as valuable to a first-year employee as it is to the CEO. It is as important to someone working in a tech start-up in Silicon Valley as it is to the person teaching elementary school. Developing your own professional network will lead to more success than almost anything else you do in your career. It is the key to your professional success.
At a networking event, you will meet people for the first time and you want to give them the maximum opportunity to remember your name. Attach your nametag very high on your right lapel. Do this because you are usually extending your right hand to shake, so that side of your body will also be slightly extended forward. This makes it easier for the person to read your nametag without having to look across your body.
Professional success in every industry is a team effort. Who is on your team?
Most successful people will say that networking has played an important role in their careers. I would challenge anyone who claims that his or her success was completely self-determined. No matter what your career, a professional network can be extremely helpful.
Actors, athletes, artists, and musicians, in addition to business people, civil servants, politicians, medical professionals, lawyers, teachers, doctors, and not-for-pro t professionals all bene t from the relationships nurtured by a robust professional network.
Professional success in every industry is a team e ort. Your team or your professional network may include people within your own organization, your industry, or related industries. It may also include your business partners, former colleagues, col- lege classmates, and people who belong to the same professional associations.
There is no better source of information about the most important professional networking platform in the world than the LinkedIn Official Blog. If you want to learn more about LinkedIn, go right to the source. There are hundreds of blog posts arranged by topic and searchable by keyword.
About Jeff Chapski
Jeff Chapski has coached and mentored hundreds of college students and recent graduates as they started their first jobs and launched their careers. Recalling the important skills and lessons he learned early in his own career, Jeff started writing a blog at Career-ology.com to help new professionals succeed at work. Read more...