In the modern professional world, everyone understands what “networking” means, and most of us understand the mechanics of how it works and how it can help support career growth. But unfortunately, we don’t always put that knowledge into practice on a daily basis. Most people still only reach out to their networks in a moment of desperation after being laid off. Try not to do this. Keep your network strong, and spend a little time doing so every week, whether or not you’re about to be laid off or need a recommendation for a graduate school application. Try these tips.
Strengthen Your Security by Strengthening Your Social Network
1. Show up at events.
The office holiday party may be a drag, and happy hour may be a non-event that happens almost every single Friday. What would it hurt to skip this weekly ritual just once? And if you don’t show up at the holiday party, will anyone really miss you or have a miserable time if you aren’t there? No, it won’t hurt to skip happy hour, and no, the office party will carry on regardless of your presence. But if you miss them, you’ll be missing opportunities to make casual connections that can have a lasting impact. A strong network isn’t built on one needy phone call that opens with a barrage of insincere compliments; rather, it’s built on a hundred small, meaningless, and pleasant interactions that happen or don’t happen every single day.
2. Ask for advice, not favors.
Don’t arrange a meeting with your contact just to demand help or ask for a job. Respect her time, and do so by showing respect for her experience and expertise. Don’t tell her what you need and expect her to respond. Instead, politely ask what she would do if she were in your shoes.
3. Think consciously about your smile.
It’s a cliché, but it’s also true: Your smile is your best professional asset, especially during the early stages of your career. A great smile can make everyone around you feel relaxed, and it helps convey a message of openness, positive intentions, and honesty. Try to smile with your whole face, not just your eyes or mouth. And think consciously about smiling every time you shake hands with someone, wave to someone at a distance, answer a phone, or enter a room.
4. Gain respect by giving respect.
Choose people around you to adopt as role models and mentors. Don’t wait for these people to choose you. Be selective, and once you’ve decided that someone has qualities you emulate, don’t work too hard to hide your admiration. Listen carefully when this person speaks, and don’t be too shy to reach out to him or her with greetings, thanks, invitations, or requests. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask your mentor questions.
Most important, strengthen your network by putting your relationships first. Prioritize human contact, and actively reach out to those in your network now and then just to say hello. For more advice on building and maintaining strong professional connections, consult the Little Rock staffing experts at CSS.