Learning how to network professionally can be daunting, however we all need to network during our career. Expanding your professional network is a smart thing to do.
The good news is, you don’t need to be an extrovert to network. If you are shy, LinkedIn and Facebook are great ways to keep up with your professional network. Connecting on these social channels can help you initiate conversation which can actually propel your career forward.
The first step in the process is to evaluate your contacts.
Who is in your sphere at work? Who is in your personal sphere who displays skills you admire? The concept of having your Personal Board of Directors is valid here.
The 6 areas of development from mapping out your Personal Board of Directors could include:
- Knowledge & Development
- Sponsorship & Influence
- Purpose & Motivation
- Personal Development
- Personal Support
- Balanced Life
Check out our Creating Your Personal Board of Directors Kit here.
Using these areas as a guide means you can analyse the people you like or admire in key areas of your work or life that you want to improve in. You can then approach them to ask for help or mentorship in an area they have expertise in.
This is the first building block of networking professionally and a strategic way of approaching the task. I call it a ‘task’ because it can seem a bit like a task sometimes, however the rewards are plentiful when you meet people who you are inspired by. Learning what another person is learning about in their career can be a source of genuine excitement.
It’s that feeling that opens up your world to new possibilities when you are less than enthusiastic about your career, which happens to all of us as some point.
Building & Maintaining A Professional Network
Building your network takes time and effort. We all know we can become stagnant in this area at times, and need the extra push!
A good question to ask yourself is why you want to connect with this person? Then you can think of a specific question for the person you are connecting with. What is it about their job that interests you? Why do you want to connect? This will help you in both online and face-to-face professional situations
Of course there are times where you won’t have the opportunity for reflection, and this is where leadership presence comes in.
Building your leadership presence is a blend of your personal and interpersonal skills. Leadership research tells us that leadership presence accounts for 26% of what it takes to get promoted.
The key elements to leadership presence is How you Act, How you Communicate, and How you Look, with How you Act being the most important.
Social psychology tells us that non-verbal communication between people conveys an enormous amount of information to the receiver.
Knowing this is information can help you prime yourself to be available for dialogue simply by making eye contact and smiling appropriately in a face-to-face setting.
How you act should convey credibility, positivity, and a genuine interest in others. How you communicate is about using clear language, and listening deeply to the other and what’s important to them, in order to connect. How you look is about your posture and your grooming. You posture tells others how you feel in your own skin.
All of your actions tell a story about you.
The main goal here is to be authentic and genuine. You might find yourself completely enthralled by another persons’ job that you never knew existed.
Professional networking can open your eyes to new opportunities, and new beginnings, and that kind of hope is welcome!
Want to learn more?
We’ve got all kinds of great tools for this at MADOfficeHero.com!
For more about this topic elsewhere, see this article we found on Forbes about networking from your desk:
How To Create A Global Professional Network From Your Desk (Forbes External Link)