It’s All About Who You Know: 8 Ways To Expand Your Professional Network
Expanding your professional network is important so that you can connect and collaborate with like-minded individuals while you work towards growing your business. It’s essential to be connected and engaged with a network or community of people who inspire you, can offer career guidance and support, as well as those you can support and lend service to.
Building your network takes time and authentic effort. Here are our top tips on how to expand your professional network.
Promote yourself across the web
It’s vital that you have a consistent web presence across all social media channels and other outlets. First, spruce up all your profiles by adding recent profile photos, creative headlines, and updating all your current profile information and descriptions. Also, include links to your other social networking sites. For example, include your LinkedIn and Twitter profile links on your Facebook page and your Facebook and LinkedIn links on your Twitter profile, and so on.
Simply having completed profiles across LinkedIn and Facebook isn’t enough to maintain and grow your professional network. You must actively be present, engaged, and helpful. Share information that you find relevant and educational. Comment on others’ posts with thoughtful questions or advice. Offer genuine support when you can. The more engaged and helpful you are online, the more you will be seen as an export or authority within your community or niche and new members will be drawn to connect with you.
Attend networking events
Networking events are specifically designed to help you meet new professionals and make connections within your industry. Do some research to figure out the best networking events to attend. LinkedIn is a great resource to search for these types of networking events. Another great place to look for events is websites of any software you use in your career, organization often promote, attend, or throw their events that you can take advantage of. Make sure to mix it up and attend some events where you don’t know anyone so you can make new connections. Ask your neighbors and friends if they attend any networking events that they enjoy. Even meeting a group for dinner once a month can pay off enormously when you are trying to expand your professional social network.
This is a chance for you to mix a hobby with your business goals. For example, if you are passionate about animals, volunteering at your local animal shelter will not only nourish your soul but will also open the door to a whole group of other volunteers that work within a variety of industries. Make an effort to be social during your volunteering; get to know your fellow volunteers and staff, invite them to grab coffee with you, and be genuine when forming your relationships.
Host an event
Invite your current network to join you for a party and tell them to bring a guest or two. You will instantly be expanding your community while simultaneously building your reputation as a leader (after all, it takes a certain amount of guts, planning, and follow-through to pull off a great event!). Rent out a stunning event space, serve delicious appetizers, and then make your way around the party introducing yourself to everyone you don’t know. Afterward, send personalized thank-you notes to everyone who attended and keep in touch with those new contacts. If hosting an event intimidates you, consider partnering up with a friend who can help you book the event venue, plan the food menu, and assist with anything else in the planning process.
Help others connect
One of the best ways to network is to introduce people to each other. If your friend needs to have a website built or a logo designed, put him or her in touch with your designer friend. Helping others make valuable connections will encourage them to do the same for you.
Send direct messages
Did you just get a new follower on Twitter? Send them a direct message to open up the doors of communication. Remember it’s not just about how many people like your page or follow you but about making authentic connections with other professionals. Make a list of all the people you want to message across Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and get messaging!
Help your friends and colleagues promote their businesses. If you see people publishing posts, tweets, and updates about their business, simply share, retweet, like, and tag their posts to help them spread the word. They will appreciate your efforts and will most likely help promote your business the next time you publish something about it, wanting to return the favor.
Remember that you have to start somewhere, so don’t worry if you don’t have a large network yet. Just follow these tips and watch your list of contacts grow! What other tips do you have for building a professional social network? Share with us in the comments below, or give us a shout on Facebook.
Author: Nicole Catatao