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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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...