Building a professional network is a great way to grow your career and take advantage of opportunities that would otherwise not be presented to you. It’s also an effective way to create relationships with people who relate to your work life in a way most of your friends and family can’t. Beyond putting yourself out there and consistently keeping in contact with your professional network, there are three stellar ways you can keep your professional network growing and strong.
1. Ask Interesting Questions to Get Memorable Introductions: If you’re going around asking the same dull question to everyone chances are you’ll only remember a few names in the bunch. Instead, come up with a few novel, interesting questions to ask. This practice will not only make you more memorable to the people you’re meeting but, chances are, interesting questions will spark interesting answers and help you remember each introduction and name more clearly. Try questions like “what is the first thing people usually ask you?” or “what are your favorite three things about your current job?” to spark a more unique and memorable introduction.
2. Be a Connector: Think about the first time one of your friends or coworkers introduced you to a really fascinating person who either has the job you hope to have some day or works in your industry in a really admirable way. Wasn’t it a thrill to get the chance to network with someone like that? As you build your network look for opportunities to connect people you already know with people you’re just meeting to facilitate these valuable connections. This will strengthen the bonds within your network and help you balance the subtle give and take process that often confounds professionals who are trying to network.
3. Add a Personal Touch: Whether it’s handwritten letters after you first meet, ordering their favorite coffee for them in advance when you meet up again, or sending them their favorite treat for their Birthdays, personal touches will always improve your networking. No one feels that connected with someone they met in person once and only email every now and then but, as soon as you send something handmade their way or even send an article that relates to what you two were discussing, you’re adding the kinds of personal touches that make all of the difference in facilitating great professional relationships.
A professional network could lead to learning opportunities or even your dream job if you know how to create a strong, dynamic one. These three tips will take your professional network from entry level to excellent.