Why you need a professional network, how and where to build one.

building a professional network

Why you need a professional network, how and where to build one.


Building a professional network is one of the most important things you can do for your career. There's a reason there are often so many networking events within your industry, and why there's always 'networking drinks' after a conference or training day. I'm sure we've all heard it before, but one of the best ways to create new opportunities for yourself, is through your own, existing professional network.

If you're pitching for client work and don't know a great deal about the client, how useful would it be to know someone who does or could give you some insider/knowledgeable tips?

Often, employers and managers will also look within their own network of contacts when looking to fill a role in their team, or if they are looking for a new partner to work with. Which is why it's so important to work on your profile within your company, industry, and within your own network, too. It's all well and good you knowing the names and roles of important people and those that have the ability to boost your career and create opportunities, but they also need to know you.


 
IT’S NOT WHAT YOU KNOW OR WHO YOU KNOW, BUT WHO KNOWS YOU.
— Susan RoAne
 

SO, HOW DO YOU BUILD ONE, AND WHERE DO YOU LOOK?


You don't have to go to lots of fancy dinners to network and create new professional relationships. A quick look at your current network, may actually surprise you.

Twitter.

Who do you follow on Twitter that may provide you with valuable insights that's only a tweet away? Next time you scroll through your timeline, scroll through with a slightly different mindset. What exactly do your twitter contacts do? If there's someone who you think could be a value to you, reach out to them and ask if you could take them for a coffee. Who knows what it could lead to?

LinkedIn.

Similarly with LinkedIn - you may already have some great contacts at your fingertips. Or, if you're not already connected with someone who you'd like to be - drop them a request with a personalised message on why you'd like to connect. We're in 2018 - social media is a gem of a networking tool that we should be making the most of. Why not have a read of our post on how to make the most of LinkedIn.

Your own circle of friends.

Or, what about your own circle of friends? What do your friends do? What knowledge do they have? Do they work in an industry that could be useful to you? Who do they know? Could they introduce you to someone who could help with what you need? Do they work for a business that could collaborate with yours?

Ex-school/college friends.

If you're anything like us, you keep all of your old school, college and uni friends on Facebook just to have a bit of a nosy at their lives and what they're up to now, right? Well, what if you could do more than just this with your old Facebook friends. What did your fellow classmates go on to do? Again, what contacts do they now have and could they be any value to you too?

The key with networking is to really think outside the box, and treat any connection or interaction you have with someone as a potential networking opportunity!

Ex-colleagues.

The people you work with don't stop becoming part of your network as soon as you leave a job. In fact, you'll probably want to keep a pretty good relationship with your ex-colleagues and managers - if you're staying within the industry, you never know when you may be working with them again! Similarly, other people move on too, and they may have opportunities for you in the future someplace else - so don't burn any bridges or lose touch with the people you used to work with just because you don't see them every day anymore. Make sure they stay as much a part of your professional network as ever.

Industry events.

There aren't many industries we can think of that won't hold industry events for their fellow colleagues. Keep your eye on the diary and see if there are any networking sessions, awards evenings or conferences that you could pop along to. Not only is it great for networking and meeting new (and potentially important!) people, it's also a great way to keep up to date with any news, goings on or new information that could boost your profile within your own company.

New to industry events & not sure how to get conversations going? Have a look at these 17 great conversation starters for networking events.

Your existing company.

Speaking of your current company, how well do you know your own colleagues? Do you really know what each person in each department does and what they contribute to the business as a whole? Probably not. So, take the opportunity at the tea points or break-out areas to start up conversations with the people you already work with - and convert them from distant colleagues to a valuable part of your network.


 
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