Many workers feel apprehensive about building their professional networks. Networking can seem difficult, time-consuming, stressful or awkward when you first begin. Whether you are searching for a new job or trying to advance in your current position, strong professional relationships help. People in your network may know about new positions, provide recommendations or give you valuable career advice. Take an organized approach to building your network to maximize its benefits and excel in your field.Instructions
1. Make a list of people you know professionally. Think beyond your co-workers to include managers, clients, vendors, faculty and acquaintances in your industry. Write each person’s name and your relationship.
2. Create an online profile at a career networking site such as Linked In or at an industry-specific site. Connect with every member on your list or invite them to join the network. Monitor the site frequently to look for new positions or offer advice to other members.
3. Join professional associations to meet more people in your industry. Attend conferences, workshops or industry events several times per year. Introduce yourself to five new people each time to slowly build your contacts. Your school’s alumni association may host social events that allow you to connect with fellow alumni.
4. Maintain your professional relationships by staying in touch via email or telephone conversations. Ask people in your network for career advice or schedule a brief lunch to reconnect. Keeping your connections alive makes people think favorably about you.
5. Offer your help or expertise to people in your network. Act as a mentor to a younger acquaintance, review a friend’s resume or pass along information to a former client. Helping people in your network strengthens your bonds and creates a web of people willing to assist you in the future.
· Always follow up with new acquaintances by sending a brief email or initiating a telephone conversation. This solidifies your relationship and adds a beneficial contact to your network.
· Taking things from your professional network without offering anything in return negatively affects your relationships. Always reciprocate with a written thank you note or a kind gesture to maintain a positive relationship.