5 ways to build your network — starting today
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Posted by: Barbara Francella
By Shelley Hammell
Networking is essential to business success, yet it tends to
be a low priority for many busy professionals. I can’t stress this enough: Establish
your network now, when you don’t need it, so it’s there when you do.
People want to help someone they know and trust, not someone
who only reaches out when they want something. Think of networking as a bank
account. You have to make deposits before you can make withdrawals. Help others
and establish yourself as a resource for them; these are your deposits, which you
can withdraw in the future.
Networking doesn’t have to be formal; every interaction is
an opportunity. Below are five ways to immediately cultivate your network.
Speak to a new person in the hall, elevator,
break room, cafeteria or wherever you come in contact with co-workers.
Remember, every interaction is an opportunity for networking.
Invite someone you normally only see in
meetings, whom you don’t know well personally, to coffee. A personal connection
goes a long way when you are in the midst of solving a tough problem together.
Schedule lunch with someone to get to know them
better in a more informal setting. Everyone has to eat; this is an easy way to
carve out time for networking. Put this on your calendar and establish a
Target more formal avenues for networking, such
as regional NEW events,
and identify your passion and find a corresponding volunteer opportunity where
you can help others. You’ll feel good while expanding your network. If you have
kids, get involved in school activities, donate your time to the girl and/or
boy scouts or volunteer as a coach for their favorite sport. Parents can be a
resource for one another, personally and professionally.
Renew connections and keep them alive through
social media — and initiate new
connections with people who have similar interests as you through LinkedIn.
Now that you’re ready to expand your network, use this four-point checklist to
make the most out of your networking:
- Establish your purpose. Ask yourself: What
do I want to get out of this interaction? Is there an opportunity to leverage
another’s expertise or gain a different perspective? Perhaps you have an open
position to fill and want to reach out beyond your own contacts. Or you need
help navigating a complex matrix organizational structure. Think through the
purpose of your meeting.
- Do your homework. Find out more about the
other individual and their interests and mention something you have in common
when you meet with them. This helps the conversation flow more easily and
establishes a connection early on.
- Make it about the other person. Ask how you
can help them or explore areas where you can be a resource. It’s a great way to
establish the reciprocal nature of the relationship from the onset — it’s not just about what you need.
- Express genuine interest. Be curious and ask
questions. Practice active listening and remain open and curious to what the
other person has to say. Being engaged demonstrates you are truly interested in
Today take at least one step to start — and make the most out of — networking.
Shelley Hammell is
founder of Sage Alliance, which
provides coaching, team building and assessments, workshops and speaking on
leadership development, empowering teams, communications, lasting impressions,
personal branding and building a coaching culture for executives and
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