Hello SOTGC community,
If you’ve followed my last four blogs, I’ve promised to share a Success List for your career and to expand upon one item every week.
This week the focus is on your professional career network. Much has been written about creating a network of professionals who will support and advocate your career because it’s a key piece to the puzzle for accelerating your career.
- Keep my resume updated.
- Know my strengths.
- Create a career development plan.
- Build a professional career network.
- Manage my physical energy.
What is networking? Devora Zack, leadership development expert and network strategist, said it the best: networking is about building meaningful, lasting, mutually beneficial relationships – one person at a time.
Now, before you quit reading this blog thinking “who has time for this?” let me simply remind you, you’ve been networking your whole life! Yes, it goes back to kindergarten, if not before. Remember the book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten? The book summarized that everything you learned in this class prepared you for life. It was at this age that you learned to network. You made new friends and started to build relationships that probably endure to this day. The school’s playground and lunchroom were the social centers for meeting kids your age or older. As you grew, you joined after-school organizations, dance, or a sports team, meeting more people who had shared interests or sincerely wanted to see you succeed. On the weekends you played with kids in the neighborhood and possibly went to church on Sunday. Sunday school introduced me to kids from other towns and schools, so when I reached high school my calendar was full. All these collective moments, events, clubs, and groups, over time, built a social network.
Now fast forward to the workplace: the same principles apply. First day at work? You’re probably onboarding with new team members, other coworkers, and leaders. The conference room and break rooms are now your social centers where like-minded individuals gather and can share career-based conversations. There are also opportunities to connect outside of the workplace with vendors, volunteer organizations, and those you meet at summits and conferences.
Technology has advanced networking in the form of online career communities such as LinkedIn, BrazenCareerist.com, and HerFuture. Check out these sites for expanding your personal and professional networks.
Recently on my radio show, Breaking the Glass Ceiling, Going Beyond Expectations,
I interviewed Kathy Selman, business coach and Founder of KickingItWithKathy.com. Kathy created a Networker’s Success Package for women who are new to networking. Kathy and her team provide expertise in building your business presence and brand, consult on your business idea, and aligns you to a pre-existing network aligned to your career and business goals.
Networking can be done in a variety of ways to suit your personality and needs. Just like kindergarten, remember these core principles for building a career network:
- Focus on meeting new people and building relationships one person at a time.
- Be yourself in all networking encounters; your authenticity will always support your success.
- Create mutually beneficial friendships and partnerships. It feels good to help others – think first of those with whom you network and how you can bring value to or enrich their lives.
- Building a career network takes time. Trust the process and know your network will support you in your greatest hours of need.
Keep your network fresh and alive. It’s important to periodically take inventory of your network. Awareness of development or current job needs is the best way to assess your network. You might find you need to add to your network, change how you connect, or change the frequency of connecting. I often reach out with an email or handwritten note to those in my network. I enjoy remembering their birthdays or important events in their life. If I need to partner on a business idea, or seek advice, I’ll meet face to face or over the phone to discuss.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to build your network! Can I help you take the first step? Reach out to someone who has the job you want in the next three to five years. Ask to meet them for coffee or lunch and learn about the work they do. Prepare questions addressing their role, their education and experience, and key skills to do the job. I promise they won’t turn you down. People love to talk about their career and work they do.
If you need additional ideas or assistance in connecting to the person that holds your next job, comment below and I will help you.
Here’s to your success!