Ten Ways to Build and Maintain Your Professional Network

Having a strong personal brand requires being connected to a network of resources for mutual development and growth.   We achieve our greatest success through our relationships with others.  That’s why it is critical to build and maintain your network.  But approach is everything.  If you build your network with the goal of supporting others, you will be far more successful than if your objectives are solely to satisfy your own objectives.  Your network is a valuable component of your personal brand; here are five ways to build and a strong network.

1.  Speak
Take every opportunity to speak about your career or business – your passion.  This means everything from talking about what you do with the local shopkeeper to making presentations to associations.  People with whom your message resonates will connect with you and quickly become a part of your brand community.

2.  Participate
Join professional organizations.  It is better to belong to fewer organizations and take an active role (board position or volunteer role)  than to belong to many with superficial connections to the membership.  Truly participating allows you to get to know people and build strong, enduring relationships.

3.  Publish
Writing articles, Blog posts, whitepapers, etc. is a great way to communicate your passion.  Write on topics related to your goals/passions to provide value to the readers.  Identify your ideal publications and online portals and develop a relationship with the editors.  Readers of your articles who share you passion will seek you out and become part of your network.

4.  Create
If there isn’t a professional organization that feels right to you, create one.  It can be a physical organization or a virtual one. Being the founder of the organization gives you instant credibility with your entire membership and an opportunity to define and evolve it. And with the opportunity to build private social networking groups on the web, it’s as easy as it is valuable.

5.  Volunteer
Volunteering is a great way to build professional relationships while contributing to the community. Take a volunteer position that allows you to use your strengths or develop new skills. Your network will grow along with your sense of fulfillment and accomplishment.

To be truly successful at networking, you need to be continuously making new connections while at the same time nurturing the relationships you have. Remember, if you take the attitude that it is about you, you will be less successful in retaining your network.  But if you treat your network as a group of people you serve and support, your experience will be much more positive and you will attract what you need to be successful.

Here are five ways to keep your network going:

1.  Write
Create a newsletter or Blog as a source of regular communication with your network.  Include articles that are an easy read and provide value to the readership. Keep an updated mailing list to ensure that your newsletter reaches your entire audience.

2.  Acknowledge
Express thanks, congratulations and fond wishes. Remember to send birthday cards, holiday cards, thank you cards, etc.  This is a great way to show the members of your network you care.

3.  Update
Every time there is a change to your organization, your work status or your contact details, broadcast it.  Use these life changes as opportunities to remind your network that you are there.  Just updating your status on LinkedIn and Facebook keeps your contacts aware of what’s happening.

4.  Telephone
Mass media like e-mail and newsletters are great for consistent communication.  But enduring business relationships require much more.  One way to stay in touch and build stronger bonds with your network is to commit to at least one call a week. Take 15 minutes to half an hour it takes each week to maintain an important relationship. And use video if you can. It is the best way to deliver a complete communication.

5.  Socialize
A great way to build and nurture your network and help people build theirs is to host an event.  This can be a random event at your house or a recurring event at a chosen meeting place.  This will provide an informal way to connect the members of your network with each other.  Encouraging each member to bring a member of their network will also help to significantly expand yours.

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Comments

  1. Great advice, William. As a self-employed resume writer I blog and write articles, volunteer with local high schools, speak to groups (would love to do more of this), and participate in a few professional associations. These activities are authentic to my interests and talents. Notice I left out the “create” option. I will leave that to another professional who enjoys organizing and leading. It is not my forte! It’s great that options exist for every personality, energy level, and talent-base. Thank you for sharing your expertise!

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