A professional network is one of the most crucial aspects of career advancement. How to build and maintain a professional network? Read on to find out…
One of the most important aspects of advancing professional life and to have a successful career is building and maintaining a professional network. A lot of people don’t know the meaning of a professional network. So what is a professional network? A professional network is a group of people who have connected with one another for the purpose of business or career-related reasons. The members of such a network, also known as connections or contacts, share information and useful insights with each other, solve work-related problems, find leads, and provide information about useful employers, employees, and clients. A professional network can be made up of almost everyone you’ve ever met, as long as they are of good character and intentions. Each connection can lead to more new ones, thus expanding your professional network. Your professional network can include family and friends, current and former co-workers, fellow members of professional associations and organizations, former professors or instructors, and former classmates. The wider and more enriching the horizon, the better the chances of developing a good professional network. Read this blog to find out the ways to build and maintain a professional network.
What are the advantages of a good professional network?
A good professional network can help any individual achieve a successful career and grow in their lives. Following are some advantages:
Helps in career advancement
A good professional network can help you to reach out to various individuals in your circle, who will help you in advancing your career and help you make the right choices. Gathering information about various career paths to interviewing people from similar occupations in your connections, a good professional network can provide you all!
Helps in finding prospective jobs/candidates
If you’re a candidate looking for job opportunities, your professional network can prove to be of great advantage. Talking to the members of your network and their contacts can prove to beneficial for potential employees. Likewise, if you’re a recruiter, it is highly likely that you are going to find someone from amongst your network. Your connections can help you contact and reach out to prospective candidates, also enabling you to enquire about candidates that didn’t come through your network.
Fetches useful advice for projects
One of the most crucial advantages of professional networking is that you can get a lot of feedback from your connections with respect to any new project or launch. Some of those suggestions might prove to be very useful for you. However, it depends on you which advice to consider and which one not to.
Preparing for client pitches
Professional networking also helps you to gain information about prospective clients and prepare pitches for them. Someone from your connection can help you with designing a client pitch. But be careful while sharing confidential information with people outside your organization.
Ways to build and maintain your professional network
Here are some ways you can maintain your professional network and utilize it to the fullest
Keep Your Network Alive
Do not be that person who talks to their connections only when the need arises. Keep your network alive and be in constant touch with them. The last thing you want is to get in touch with someone who doesn’t remember you or to miss out on a great opportunity because your contact who knows about it doesn’t think of you.
Look for ways to add value
Nothing demonstrates your respect for people more than sharing some influential connections of your own or information that may be relevant and valuable to them. Besides reinforcing the bonds of your relationship, it causes them to view you as a trusted peer, and it often engenders a desire to reciprocate over time — though that shouldn’t be your motivation for doing so. Another aspect is if you happen to come across a timely article covering exciting news about a colleague’s industry or passion, send it to him or her. Those simple gestures are uncommon and appreciated.
Show that you care
After you’ve made contact with someone and had a relevant conversation — no matter how brief — take fast action and follow up while you’re still fresh in their minds. Reach out occasionally to have substantive, meaningful conversations (whether by phone, electronically, or over lunch or coffee) with the people who matter to you most within your network.
Acknowledge and praise the success of connections
When you hear about something great that has happened for people in your network, reach out, and acknowledge their success and achievement. It doesn’t take much time, but it fosters goodwill, and everyone appreciates that simple gesture. The key is to follow up and be genuinely curious about and interested in the other person’s world.
Don’t Let Shyness Stop You From Connecting
If you are a shy person, look for activities and platforms where you are most comfortable and that can also help you form useful connections. Social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn can prove to be beneficial in this regard. Doing volunteer work will also give you a chance to meet people with whom you have something in common.
Increase your visibility
Regularly attending industry events or conferences increases your odds of being noticed and remembered. Introducing yourself to industry leaders and hiring managers and delivering your elevator pitch is a great way to boost your visibility in a saturated industry.
Exposure to confidential opportunities
Most executive and senior-level positions aren’t published online. They remain undisclosed, usually because the organization would prefer to keep the role confidential. If you connect directly with hiring managers or executive search firms, they can keep your details on record so that when an opportunity arises, they can get in contact with you.
One of the best ways to create a robust network is to attend events and conferences, building relationships with other attendees and industry speakers. In fact, many networking events and conferences are structured to enforce communication and networking opportunities. Prior to the event, do some research to identify who will be attending and speaking. While the event’s website will provide information on guest speakers, following the event’s hashtag on social media may provide additional insight about the attendees. Most networking occurs immediately before and after an event. It is good practice to connect with the professionals that you met on LinkedIn immediately after the event so that your face will remain fresh in their minds.
Join networking groups
Social media is playing a key role in recruitment. According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 70% of hiring managers are using social media to screen potential candidates, emphasizing the importance of social savviness. LinkedIn enables you to position yourself as a key thought leader in the life sciences. By consistently publishing posts and sharing relevant articles, you can build your reputation and promote your expertise. People naturally seek to connect with individuals who share the same or similar interests. LinkedIn groups allow you to do just that; providing an arena to share content, ideas, and solutions.
It can’t be overstated how important it is to build and nurture a professional network. While it most certainly necessary to strengthen those networks over time, What comes around goes around. So make sure that you add value to it.
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