Whether you have a busy schedule or you are an introverted professional, networking is an important part of every career. Often, we find excuses for not making out time to build our network or worse still feel like we don’t need one. However, recognising the benefits of networking and efficient ways to go about can be very helpful. If you have previously avoided networking or find it difficult to expand, here are our top 5 strategies to build your network:
Understand what networking is — and isn’t.
Most introverted professionals often mistake networking for grovelling or sycophancy. This assumption is one of the greatest limitations to their networking abilities. One should re-frame networking as an opportunity to make interesting friends who you would be grateful to have in the long run. This makes the concept more appealing and increases your chances of excelling at it.
Reach out to People You Truly Respect
You don’t have to pretend to like people to network with them. Your life will be easier if you reach out whose personalities or endeavours truly interest you. This will encourage you to put in more effort in maintaining the connection after it is initiated.
Outline ways in which not having a network limits you
We understand that you may have gotten to where you are with little or no external help. However, think about how much progress you would have made and in less time too if you had a wider network. Identifying these shortcomings allows you to see how useful networking is to your career and life in general.
Create a wishlist of Potential connections
You don’t necessarily need to have access to these people before you include them in your wish-list. In fact, the wishlist helps you to understand the type of people that you would like in your circle. It helps to highlight possibilities and creates an air of excitement/anticipation that will help you look forward to networking. Therefore when the opportunity presents itself, it is easier to seize it as the connections are already on your radar.
Identify preferred means of networking
Although networking can happen quite impromptu, it is very important to be intentional about making connections. Once you have identified people you would love to connect with, you can decide how and when you would like to meet them. Social media, conferences or even a reach-out call or email are great ways to make contact.