We all know one of the key steps to really building your career is to leverage your network. In reality, it’s often tough to know how to start building a network, or how to grow your network. The prospect is even harder if hate the idea of going to networking events. For many of us, the thought of working a room while wearing a name badge, making small talk and exchanging business cards can feel really, really uncomfortable.
It’s worth remembering that there’s more than one way to network. Find the way to fine tune your networking in a style that works best for you.
Here are a few ideas to get your started.
Invest in the contacts you already have
Keep in touch, arrange a coffee or a lunch or just reach out from time to time to check in on how they are and if there are areas where they need help. Don’t overlook the people you already know and make the time to reconnect.
Ask for introductions
Ask close friends or contacts to make personal introductions to people in their network they think you should know. A personal referral is a great icebreaker and can be a great way to expand your network.
Use the power of social media
Twitter and Instagram are a great way to keep up to speed on what’s happening in your industry and also build connections. LinkedIn has built in tools to find contacts in your email you may have forgotten and can reconnect with via their network.
Leverage opportunities where you work
Get involved with company activities that align with your interests. It’s a great way to build relationships with people you may not work closely with on a daily basis.
Make time for a hobby
Making the time to sign up for a class or to play your favorite sport can be a great way to expand your connections while doing something you enjoy.
Giving your time to help execute an event for your industry or to support a cause can be a great way to make contacts without the pressure to perfect an elevator pitch. Here are some further tips on how to get more out of your career by giving back.
Focus on building your network in a way that’s authentic to you. There’s no perfect formula, find what feels right and remember quality is always better than quantity. Focusing on cultivating a small circle of close contacts you respect is worth way more than gathering a hundred random business cards at a networking event.
Post by Octavia Goredema @OctaviaGoredema