We have all heard the saying “Your Network is your net worth”, the questions is how do you build and essentially maintain this network of peers, mentors, advisors or many other influential individuals in your industry or field of study? To answer this, we first need to understand what building a network means and what maintaining a network means. Both building and maintaining a professional network are crucial for career growth and success. It opens doors to new opportunities, provides support and guidance, and helps you stay updated in your industry. Building and maintaining a professional network is a continuous effort that requires time and dedication.
From my experience building and maintaining a professional network takes time and effort. You need to be able to invest time and effort, you can create a valuable support system that can benefit both your professional and personal growth. In this blog, I wanted to share and explore ways in which I believe you can build and maintain your network.
Building Your Network
Building your network involves finding ways to create an ecosystem of individuals that you believe can support you in your endeavours. In my journey, there are four ways I think you can build your professional network.
Attend Industry Events:
Industry events such as conferences, seminars, workshops, and networking events are the best opportunities to meet professionals in your field. As you go for these events make sure you have a before, during and after checklist of the event to maximise this opportunity. Try to have a cold introduction, engage in conversations, exchange ideas, and offer to share contact information, from a professional setting, I would advise LinkedIn. An example of an introduction:
Dear *Name of connection*, My name is *Your Name*. I am a student at “Your institution” or I work as *your job title/role*. Thank you for accepting my connection request. I am fascinated by the work that you do in *Industry* and the positive strides you have made. I would like to learn more about how I can apply myself in the industry. Thank you. Have a great day.
Utilize Online Platforms:
Leverage the power of online networking platforms, particularly LinkedIn. Create a compelling profile that highlights your skills, experience, and aspirations. Connect with colleagues, industry experts, and alumni from your educational institutions with a short introduction introducing yourself and thanking the other party for the connection.
Join Professional Associations:
Become a member of professional associations, clubs and and organizations specific to your industry. These groups often organize networking events, provide access to resources, and offer opportunities to connect with influential professionals in your field, because they have developed a system that has worked for them over time.
Attend Workshops and Webinars:
Participate in workshops, webinars, and online courses relevant to your industry. These events not only enhance your skills and knowledge but also provide opportunities to connect with like-minded professionals. Actively engage and seek collaborations with attendees.
Maintaining Your Network
Once you have built your network, it is key to find ways in which you can maintain your professional network. Maintaining it is crucial, because I would assume that you do not want to just have a network and not cultivate it. How do you maintain your professional network? These are ways I have found to be useful in maintaining it.
Building a network is an ongoing process and in as much as this is a professional network, it is a relationship you are maintaining. Stay in touch with your connections by sending personalized messages, offering congratulations on their milestones, and sharing interesting articles or resources. I have found that regular communication, even if its once a month checkup call/meet is key to nurturing and maintaining professional relationships.
Be a Resource:
Offer your knowledge, skills, and expertise to your network whenever possible. Share relevant information, introduce connections who could benefit from each other, and provide support when needed. Being a resource to others strengthens your professional relationships and establishes you as a valuable contact.
Follow Up and Follow Through:
When you meet someone new or receive a referral, follow up promptly. Send a personalized message or email expressing your gratitude and interest in maintaining the connection. If you commit to doing something for someone, ensure you follow through on your promise this build trust and confidence.
Regularly evaluate and update:
Always find ways to assess your network and its relevance to your goals. Identify connections that have become less valuable or inactive, and consider whether it’s worth investing more time and effort. It’s normal for networks to evolve, so be open to expanding and diversifying your connections. As you grow this will be a natural thing, but never burn bridges.
In my opinion, all this is related to self education, because it a path you choose to take. My blog on why self-education is key is a great read. Building and maintaining a professional network is a continuous effort that requires time and dedication. By following these steps, you can develop a strong support system, open doors to new opportunities, and stay updated in your industry. Remember, your network is your networth, establish authentic connections and providing value to others. With consistent effort, you’ll cultivate a professional network that contributes to your long-term success.