In my last entry I discussed developing your ‘in person’ based network of professional contacts, especially in your local area. As I mentioned in my previous entries you should focus on developing strong ‘in person’ professional relationships with business professionals in your local area. I reflected how this particular networking tripod leg will challenge and help you to develop your interpersonal skills. The in person networking will also help you to strengthen and extend your technology based professional network. Your in person networking will provide the local contacts that will help you to develop your local career support network also.
I will also continue to remind you - Take some time before joining a new community to identify the value that you will both gain and provide to the community by joining. Remember that in order to gain and provide value you must participate, so my advice regarding this is to periodically review the sites to which you are a member to reevaluate the value of the network including the level of participation you are able to maintain.
In my final entry in this series I will cover the importance of developing your industry and professional organization network to round out your professional networking. Your industry and professional organizations network will provide a basis for developing your career. Your industry and professional organization network will also provide you an opportunity to learn more about your industry and also provides an opportunity to participate and even shape your industry through active participation in these organizations. This is where your networking skills will really come together to provide the greatest benefits across your network. I’ve had the best experience in my network from both a growth and benefits perspective by focusing on local professional networks. This allows you to more easily participate and build strong and lasting relationships to support your network and encourage your network in supporting your professional growth.
As I’ve mentioned, I’ve had very positive experiences and growth potential that developed from my active participation in local industry and professional organizations. I have developed strong relationships that continue to this day after many years. Even moving away from the cities where I developed these relationships has not weakened the relationships, in fact these relationships remain just as strong even considering the time and distance since they were first developed. The local professional organizations provided a ‘safe’ environment to grow in the professional community and also my develop presentation and networking skills.
Ten years ago I started to use LinkedIn to build a network and I will be the first to admit that I did not place much credence in the strength of that network. Now I have reached a point where my professional network is growing organically at a dramatic pace and I’ve become more discerning in my network selections because I realized that in order to generate the greatest value and benefits across my professional network I must focus on providing value to this network and this takes time to achieve the greatest value.
I hope that you have realized from this series of discussions that you must utilize all three networking methods in order to develop the strongest and most valuable professional network. My advice remains the same, be very careful in your networking selections and connections in order to build the greatest value. Another piece of advice that I recently fully understand the value is the willingness to change and drop associations when they no longer provide value or meet your needs. Remember - the other partners and groups in your network are changing and growing in the same manner as you are changing and growing in your career and it is foolish to think that everything will remain the same forever!
Now for the audience participation portion of this program…….
Do you have a professional network strategy and do you maintain your professional network on a regular basis?
Do you regularly attend professional networking events or conferences? Do you have a strategy to develop and maintain your professional network while attending these events?
What kind of benefits do you achieve from your professional network? Do you consider your professional network to be collaborative?