When I talk to professionals about what they’re most concerned about as we begin work on their career, there is one group of questions that comes up again and again.
Questions to do with Career Networking.
How do I build a network? How do I maintain a network? But one of the common questions is:
How do I rekindle a dormant professional network?
Let’s talk about how to make it easier to rekindle a dormant professional network by using the three questions below.
But first, would you like to boost your networking confidence right away?
If so, fill this form to request a simple but powerful self-coaching tool by email.
Imagine this. It’s early in the morning. You go into your kitchen.
There’s water on the floor. Right away, you see the dishwasher needs repair.
Yes, it’s a nuisance, but you take it in your stride. Why?
Because, you have what you need to solve the problem.
All it takes is a quick phone call to the local appliance repair person.
Someone you already know and trust.
Contrast this with the frustration you feel if you know your day is already full, and you have to spend time finding someone.
And you don’t even know if they’ll do a good job.
In the same way, without a network your career change will take longer and be more frustrating.
But you can get back on track, even if your network is dormant.
Begin by answering the three questions below.
1. What’s my Purpose for Networking?
When did you last take some time to reflect on why networking is worth the time and effort it requires? Yes, you may agree it’s a good thing to do. But why is it important to your personally?
Clarifying your goals will help you to stay motivated when you feel you’re too busy. There are many reasons to network. It’s important to think about your personal priorities.
For example, do you want to be more visible in your company so that you will be on the radar of decision-makers when it comes to the next round of promotions? Are you working on a new idea and that needs the support of others to make it happen? Have you reached a plateau in your career and want to find new opportunities? Do you want to develop new skills, or use strengths you know you have, but you’re not currently using them?
Take some time to jot down what’s most important to you at the current stage of your career. Then choose one or two priorities to focus on first. Start small. Set specific goals – goals that are tailored to what’s most important to you.
2. What’s my Networking Style?
Like healthy eating, building your professional network is not a quick fix. Consistent effort is the key. Make it easier and more enjoyable by choosing approaches that are a good fit for your personal style. Think about your temperament and what approach will be more effective. Where do you feel most comfortable? When is it easiest for you to connect with others? What has worked for you in the past?
Think about the successful relationships that you already have and how they developed. How did they begin? What do you do to keep the relationships alive?
Choosing approaches based on your style doesn’t preclude developing new skills. If you practice, you will get better at things that may be difficult at first.
Notice areas you would like to improve and choose one to work on first.
3. How Can I Make it Easier and More Efficient to Follow Up My Contacts?
Nowadays, online tools such as LinkedIn make it easy to find people. But effective networking required investment of time to build relationships. This means going beyond first contact. It means follow-up and regular contact. The best way to do this is to put a system in place that will make that easier.
There are hundreds of technical solutions for more efficient contact management. These include sophisticated systems designed for sales teams. The key is to find a solution that fits what you need and the way you like to work.
For many professionals simpler is better. You may already have the tools you need. For example, how easy is it to add new contacts? What about storing your notes, searching and organizing your contacts, and creating follow-up reminders? If you need a new tool, ask for recommendations or do an internet search for CRM reviews.
It’s true that networking requires time and effort. The good news is that you can learn the skills of professional networking.
Build on what already works for you.
To boost your confidence, fill this form to get access to a simple but powerful self-coaching tool that will help you recognize your strengths.
No matter where you are today, commit to making building your professional network a priority. You will enrich your personal and professional life and your next career change will be easier.
Career & Work Life Matters, ISSN 2150-6299, Vol 6, no. 15
|Jennifer Bradley, PhD helps professionals lead their own careers, empowered with the information, tools, and resources that they need. She offers individual coaching and consulting, teaches classes, and publishes articles on career development and career transition.
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