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THE GOLDEN RULE OF NETWORKING

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.
What is the secret to making networking fun?

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.

These are just a few of the resources that you bring to any net- working situation. And none of these resources depend on your age, seniority, or ability to hire. Everyone has something to bring to a networking situation.

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.

Why Networking is Important in Your Career

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.

NAME TAGS DON’T DESERVE MUCH THOUGHT, RIGHT? WRONG!

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.

The Key for Your Success

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.

LinkedIn Official Blog

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.

Reading List: How to Really Used LinkedIn by Jan Vermeiren

 

Why read the book? This book is written for a broad audience—from the LinkedIn novice to the advanced user—and includes instruction on using the tool and detailed strategies for creating your profile, building your own professional network, and engaging with groups. You can download a full copy of the book for free and access tools, videos, webinars, and self-assessment tools.

Don’t Forget the “Why” on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a very powerful tool for building and maintaining your professional network. I’ve blogged about LinkedIn often.  Check out Getting Started on LinkedIn for College Students and LinkedIn Maps to Visualize Your Network.

I currently have 500+ people in my LinkedIn network. I did not add these people randomly, but instead chose to add them to my network. For the LinkedIn requests I receive, I use my own LinkedIn protocol to determine with whom I will connect. My guidelines are not complicated, are infinitely flexible and work for me very well.

For everyone on LinkedIn considering a “Connect” request, the most important question is: Read more

Keys to Career Advancement

Kaplan University and LinkedIn recently published the results of a survey of 1,000 individuals about their views on career development. The headline is:

Nearly eight-in-ten survey respondents agree they need to obtain new skills to advance their careers

This is Career-ology’s core belief.  Career advancement is based on continuing skills training and development. Don’t wait for your company to provide the training you want– find it and complete the training on your own. YOU are responsible for building YOUR skills set.

Here is a brief summary of the survey’s key findings:

  • 78% respondents agree or strongly agree that they need to obtain new skills to advance their careers.
  • 64% agree or strongly agree that continuing their education will play an important role in their career advancement.
  • 53% agree or strongly agree that they need a more systematic process for planning and tracking their career journey.
  • 68% respondents indicate that they would like a better method for finding opportunities to be mentored or to serve as mentors for others.

It doesn’t take a survey to tell you what you already know.  The question is . . . what will you do about it?  You can read the full press release at Kaplan University’s website.