Building a strong, reliable, professional network is essential for most careers in the digital world. It isn’t always enough to have the skills and experience necessary to get the job done. Sometimes you must know the right people to gain access to greater opportunities.
You may not like the sound of that, but it’s true. Building a professional network can be crucial to staying relevant in your field and reaching new career heights.
No matter how social or un- you may feel from day to day, don’t let the prospect of creating a professional network scare you! It’s not as elusive as it sounds. We have the seven secrets to building your professional network right here.
1. Put Yourself Out There
Networking requires some leg work, which is why it is a verb. You have to actively put yourself in a position to engage with others. You have to seize opportunities since they won’t just land on your doorstep (real or virtual).
If you are not sure where to start, consider attending conferences that relate to your field. You are sure to meet tons of people who may become future employers and coworkers. Joining a professional association can also keep you in the loop with others in your career.
And then, of course, there’s social media. It’s so crucial to successful professional network building that it has its very own set of rules, which we discuss next.
2. Use Smarter Social Media Practices
Using social media is a brilliant way to network — as long as you use it thoughtfully.
If you and your friends are a bit immature, that will shine through on your pages and can put off prospective employers, clients, and coworkers. Consider keeping that account private. (Especially if you regularly chat with your college bud, who likes to call you by an embarrassing nickname from your school days.)
If needed, have separate Facebook and Instagram accounts that are just for your professional world. Join specific Facebook Groups that can connect you with people in your field,
And don’t forget to dust off your LinkedIn account. Employers hire three LinkedIn users every minute on the platform. Meaning it’s still wildly relevant to professional networking and career advancement.
No matter which social media sites you use, remember these simple tips:
- Upload a professional photo
- Only include information about yourself that pertains to your career
You can show off your personality, of course, but always be appropriate. You never know if your future boss is watching!
3. Be Curious About Others
Networking is not a one-sided relationship that benefits you and you alone. You’ll go a lot further in your networking endeavors if you channel energy into actually getting to know people in your field.
Ask them questions about their background and exchange “while in the field” work stories that are special to your profession.
Professionals only want to work with people they like, so being open and friendly is key to successful networking that will continue to pay off.
And if you show interest in others, they’ll remember you in a positive light. They may even recommend you for a future job role that would be a tremendous step forward for your career.
That’s what it’s all about, right?!
4. Create & Promote A Professional E-Portfolio
Portfolio sites let you showcase your amazing professional feats. And no, you don’t necessarily have to be an artist or a recent grad to have a portfolio.
They are clever tools available for teachers, data scientists, designers, and freelancers in just about every niche. If you’ve worked on projects and have evidence of it, an e-portfolio can really help you stand out.
Start by loading your work and professional details on a free portfolio site. Be sure to link to it on your social media sites. You just never know what opportunities may come along.
5. Stay Informed About Evolutions In Your Field
Whether you are currently active in your career or between jobs, you must keep your knowledgebase sharp as a tack.
This keeps you valuable as an employee, for one thing.
It also gives you plenty to talk about with those in your professional network.
Don’t be braggadocious about your insights, but be generally informed about any changes your career is facing. It shows that you’re knowledgeable and able to change with the times as needed.
6. Remember – It’s Not Just You
You are not the only one building a professional network. There are countless people in your field and beyond who are doing the exact same things.
Keeping this in mind can serve two purposes. It may prevent you from hesitating when a potential opportunity rears its head. It can also remind you that when a job better suited for someone in your network comes along, you can suggest them in your stead.
Always playing fair by people will keep you popular in professional circles.
7. Relax A Bit
One of the best secrets to building your professional network is to roll with the punches.
As with any other type of relationship, you cannot control everything that happens when networking. There’s no need to obsess over every exchange or perceived missed opportunity.
If you are willing to relax, other behaviors will be more natural. You’ll come across as authentic, for one thing. You’ll know better than to abuse anyone’s time, as it’s always best to keep your correspondences short and precise.
Do not come across as desperate to anyone in or around your professional network. It will make your peers uncomfortable, and they’ll avoid you, unsurprisingly.
When you’re relaxed, your natural confidence shines through. And that’s the person people will be jumping at the chance to work with.
Building a professional network doesn’t have to be particularly strenuous or stressful. Your goal is to cultivate a rapport with folks in your field. They may be able to help you down the road, and you may be able to help them, too.
Remember these seven secrets to building your professional network. Now, no matter what chances come your way, you’ll be socially and professionally ready.
Elaine Chavez is the Business Manager at 625 Broadway. With over eight years of experience in the industry, she begins and ends each day loving what she does. She is passionate about helping people find the perfect place to call home and shines at building a community that everyone is proud to be a part of.