Professional Networking 101

At the moment I am torn between my beliefs and values around networking, and being so irritated I want to toss them out the window! I believe that “networking is the key to career success” and I also believe that I should live and breathe what I preach to my clients every day. If I am asked for help or to speak to someone about their career I always say yes, even if it is a 5-minute conversation. I believe that every great networker gives 120% more than they will ever receive. I also believe that if you have been helped on your networking journey, you should also be happy to give back.

Two years ago I worked with a client that was extremely hurt by the loss of her job. I reached out to many of my business contacts and colleagues, who in turn went out of their way to give her contacts, and meet and spend valuable time supporting and guiding her. I was thrilled when she got her new position; however, every time I reached out to her after she landed at her new company, my calls and or emails were not returned. At no point in the last two years have I heard from this person nor has she ever returned my calls or emails – I have to say I was not only disappointed, but hurt.

Well she is back in the job market looking for a new position and has sent me an invitation asking to meet to discuss her career.  At this point in our relationship I feel I am being approached only because this person wants access to my expertise and my network!  I have encountered this before and always ask myself; should I just ignore her, give her a piece of my mind, or stick to my values and beliefs and do whatever I can to help her regardless of the behavior. While I am deciding how to handle the situation I felt this would be a good time share networking tips and some of the fundamental approaches that make for successful networking:

Networking Tips

  • Continue to look for ways to build your network by helping other people.
  • Go to work events and challenge yourself to meet new people.
  • Get to know the “influencers” in the company you work for, associations, or alumni.
  • Join relevant organizations and gain access to their membership.
  • Establish/maintain your online profiles.
  • Attend and/or speak at conferences and seminars.
  • Volunteer within your professional or personal community.
  • Record the names of everyone you know and take the time to keep in touch.
  • Join networking groups.
  • Become a member of industry associations, business networking groups, rotary clubs, and school alumni.
  • Keep in touch with people you have previously worked with (many companies have “former employee alumni”).
  • Help people along the way. The individual who is great at networking is always willing to give out more information than they will ever receive.
  • Networking should be an ongoing process, not just when you want information and or help.

 

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