While networking takes time and effort, it doesn’t have to be hard work. It can even be a fun personal and professional challenge you set for yourself. Here are some easy dos and don’ts that everyone can use to grow their professional network.
1. Don’t Abuse LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a great resource and most people will say, “I use LinkedIn for networking.” LinkedIn is a useful tool, but it shouldn’t be your primary source of growing your network. It also shouldn’t be a place where you connect with as many strangers as possible in the hopes of adding value to your network. The real strength of a network is that it helps you get to know people – and helps them get to know you – in a professional capacity. This means they know you well enough to know if your skills are a good fit for a job or can recommend you for a project on your merit. Feel free to connect with people in your industry, recruiters, people who know your co-workers, and people from past and current jobs. These are the contacts who are more likely to write you a recommendation, endorse your skills or share relevant information with you. This is where the real value is.
2. Embrace the Question, “What do you do?”
Many people struggle with this question. They don’t want to appear arrogant, so they downplay their position. Alternately, some people oversell their job to appear interesting and important. Be genuine. This question is an opportunity to see what you have in common with other people and find the opportunities where your skills or industries might complement each other.
3. Don’t Shy Away From Leadership
Some people believe that the C-suite is off limits when it comes to networking. The fact is the company benefits when people work more closely together and share knowledge. The best leaders know they can learn something from everyone, even new hires and entry-level employees. If you’re a manager or director, don’t be afraid of seeming “unprofessional” or too familiar by networking with lower-level employees – it’s a great way to boost morale, foster teamwork and grow your leadership skills.
Grow your professional network!
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