Cultivating your professional network to work for you
From connecting on LinkedIn to meeting over coffee, today’s busy professionals have many different ways to engage with their communities and grow their network of professional relationships.
For both young professionals and established leaders, a well-cultivated professional network is a great asset. So how do you make the most of your connections, both online and offline? Here’s how you can identify a strategic networking approach that will grow your career and help you find like-minded leaders in your community.
Develop an inner network of individuals
Effective networking involves identifying a small group of people (typically 12 to 20 individuals) who can impact the future of your career. Ideally, this group consists of people who connect you to outside groups, challenge you in your professional development and hold you accountable. By intentionally cultivating an inner network, you proactively take steps toward achieving professional goals.
Find people who share your passion
Most professionals want more in life than success at work – you want to make a difference and feel a sense of purpose in your community. Ask yourself: What inspires you? What are your personal and professional goals? What’s your “why”? Find other people in your community that share these same passions through company resource groups, Leadership Giving Societies, volunteer opportunities and local networking events. When you share a passion with another person, you’re more likely to form a lasting connection.
Foster your weak ties
Today, some professional connections solely exist online. Engaging with these online connections may feel like a waste of time, but taking the time to share an article on LinkedIn or comment on a tweet will go far in maintaining those relationships. By finding five minutes in your day for these quick acts of engagement you can better capitalize on the power of weak ties. In the process, remind yourself that being intentional about building relationships is not a waste of time; it’s an investment in your career.
Say yes strategically
Before you say ‘yes’ to a person or experience, think about your goals and how this person or experience will help you achieve them. Develop an approach that helps you identify the best networking opportunities for you. By only saying yes to people and opportunities you care about, you can make sure that you’re adding the right people to your network and experiencing authentic interactions. It can be hard to find the time to say yes if you’re juggling meetings and deadlines; but, focusing on what you care about will streamline the process while giving you access to new information and resources.
Get to know other Leadership Givers
As a Leadership Giver, you have access to thousands of our region’s leaders. Take advantage of some – or all – of the benefits you receive with membership. You can attend an event, take part in the annual Get On Board series or join a Leadership Cabinet to meet other members with similar interests. Through Leadership Giving, you have the opportunity to develop as a leader for change while building personal and professional relationships with other passionate, community-focused philanthropists.