A professional network plays an important role in our lives. A strong network can serve as a support group, a helping hand in business development and a connection to new opportunities where you can utilize your experience and skill set. Building and maintaining a robust network can be challenging, but there are many ways to nurture your network and make sure you stay connected to people so they will be there for you, ready to help or offer advice when you need it.
Here are a few tips for maintaining a strong network:
- Schedule Time To Talk
Sometimes the work week gets hectic and time can get away from us. Reserve blocks of time in your week (and set a reminder on your calendar) to make a few phone calls, send a few emails, or attend a networking event or meeting. It’s important that you stay at the forefront of the minds of people in your network; ensuring that you do is as simple as a brief phone conversation or email.
- Give Back
Searching for employment or a change in career can be difficult and stressful. Do you remember how important people in your network were in your job search? Now you have greater empathy for what others are going through. Offer your expertise and guidance to job seekers and share what you’ve learned from your job search and your career.
- Share Openings In Your Organization
Inform members of your network about job openings within your company. You can help facilitate the connection to your company and provide important information without having to commit yourself as a reference for a job seeker. The key is to make sure you are sharing with your network.
- Add To Your Network
It’s important to stay in touch with people you’ve met in professional and social settings, but there are countless other professionals across different industries whom you may want to connect with as well. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone and introduce yourself. This can be done relatively easily at networking mixers or through social media sites like LinkedIn. In your efforts to put yourself out there, always state why meeting a particular person is of value to you and what you are able to offer in return.
- Don’t Wait Until the Next Crisis
You know how time consuming it can be to build up your network, so don’t wait until you are in crisis mode to connect with people. Stay connected over coffee, email and phone conversations so that when you are in need (searching for employment, for example), people in your network will be more receptive to providing assistance and support.
For additional tips on building your network, social networking and your personal brand, visit our Career Advice Videos library .
Manager, Career and Industry