Networking is the ability to create a network of professional contacts that generates both lasting relationships over time and mutual benefits. This practice isn’t new, although it has gained more visibility in times of high connectivity like today’s. If you want to learn how to build a professional network and increase your personal brand value, read the following tips!
How to enhance your professional network?
1. Find motivation and a mission
Networking is a strategic process like creating a resume or cover letter. But to find out who you want to contact, first you must know where you want to go. When you start communicating with people, ask yourself what your career mission is and the reason you want to build a particular relationship.
2. Go beyond an industry
You may want to make contacts from the same field, especially at the beginning of your career. While this is very relevant, building a wide network of diverse profiles will give you many benefits. For example, an event producer will find it very helpful to meet specialists in marketing, sales, businessmen, journalists and all kinds of people.
3. Quality over quantity
Having a large number of contacts will not always represent a benefit for both sides. A social media user will know how to distinguish between the number of friends and the number of people who will assist him if he needs help. This also applies to the professional field, where only a group of workers will support you in certain circumstances.
There are disadvantages in growing a network indiscriminately. You can engage in too much or fall into the trap of working with a contact who is not interested in helping you.
4. Provide assistance
It’s a good idea to have a generous mindset in the business world. Therefore, you should start building a professional network by offering support to a person, maybe collaborating with a project or writing content that may be of interest to your contact.
Support at both the professional and personal level will generate solid and lasting ties. There is nothing better than being surrounded by people who trust us and that can be around at any time.
5. Keep track
It’s not enough to talk and build a shallow relationship. Social networks cover much more than an initial connection. For this reason, it’s important to build relationships and be respectful and grateful with your contacts. Scheduling lunch or a recreational activity is a plus.
How to strengthen your image when networking?
- Prepare reports and presentations.
- Show and power your strengths.
- Never refuse to give talks.
- Provide “free” collaborations.
- Be very consistent with your brand values.
- Share your professional experiences whenever you can.
- Listen and analyze your competition.
- Study other cases and show them as examples.
Most common mistakes when networking
1. Not having a clear objective
Attending face-to-face or virtual meetings, conferences or talks only because we will contact many people doesn’t mean building a professional network with quality contacts. Maybe your goal is simply to meet other experienced professionals. Study your situation and set achievable goals.
2. Talk about yourself all the time
Although we want to communicate our capabilities and the services we offer, saturating time with information about us can scare away our interlocutors. Give people space to express themselves and get to know them. Remember that this is a contract where both parties must win.
3. Leave a wrong impression
We all want to leave a good impression, but you shouldn’t exaggerate your qualities or lie about your professional abilities or work experience. Have you ever wondered what would happen if someone found out the truth? Word of mouth is an effective communication tool, so your reputation could founder.
You should also avoid the following:
- Ask for favors.
- Go after others.
- Promise the impossible.
- Send your resume indiscriminately.
4. Go to extremes
Extremes aren’t good and this also applies to networking. Being too shy will make you miss opportunities, whereas effusiveness could take you away from many people. It’s important to find a middle ground that fits with different personality types, and this will require a process of trial and error. You just have to find the best way to communicate.
5. Look down on others
You can look for your referents and find a way to interact with them, but you shouldn’t downplay people you don’t know or that have a different profile than yours. The most unexpected contact can offer you great benefits.
Now you know how to build a good contact network. Remember, networking means building professional relationships that allow your growth at a professional level. We hope this information has been helpful to you!
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