Hi there, I’m Karla and I’m part of the Industry Connect Team.

Today I’m wanting to touch on the importance of building your Professional Network.

Now all of us have a “network” of some kind, everything from gym, uni friends, family, sports, etc.

Now you’ve heard of the saying “It’s not what you know but who you know”, well it’s so true when you’re building a professional network for your career.

Building a network is one of the most important things you can do to advance your career. Many people don’t know how to go about it, but networking isn’t quite as complicated as it sounds.

Check Out Karla’s Video

So what is a Professional Network?

A professional network is a group of people who have connected with one another for either career or business-related reasons. Members, who are called contacts or connections, can share information which may include, but is not limited to, job leads. They may also help one another solve work-related problems, recommend vendors and suppliers, and provide information about prospective employers, employees, and clients, the list goes on.

How Can Networking Help With Career Advancement?

While a professional network can, of course, help you find leads when you are job searching, there are a multitude of other ways a solid network can help advance your career. For example:

Learn about a career: When you’re considering a career change, it is essential to gather information about the occupations you are considering. While there are resources to explore your options, one of the best ways to learn about a career is by asking someone or even a couple of people from your network who is currently working in it.

Get advice about a project: Maybe you’re tackling a project at work with which you have no experience? A member of your network who has done a similar one may be able to offer advice or put you in touch with someone who can. One note of caution though….don’t share confidential information.

Learn about a prospective employer: Another one is learning about prospective employers. So when you’re applying for jobs and preparing for job interviews always do your research on the prospective employers. A way in which to learn as well is by talking to members of your network and their contacts.

Prepare to make pitches to clients: Another thing that might come up is when you’re preparing to make a pitch to clients. Maybe you need to learn about a prospective client? One of your network contacts may be able to help, but again be cautious about sharing confidential information outside your organization.

Who Should Be In Your Network?

Your network can be made up of almost anyone you’ve ever met, as long as he or she is of good character. Guilt by association is a real thing so avoid having your reputation tarnished by someone else’s actions. Each of your contacts can lead to new ones. Some of my suggestions would be:

Current and former coworkers: Connect with people with whom you currently work as well as those you’ve worked within the past.

Fellow members of Professional Associations: Go to conferences or events organized by professional associations, and introduce yourself to other attendees. Makeup business cards with your non-work contact information and bring them with you. Become an active member, for example by serving on a committee. It will also give your colleagues a chance to see you in action.

Friends and family: Keep your family and friends apprised of your career goals. You never know who will be able to help you. Your brother-in-law’s uncle’s cousin may be a recruiter in your field.

Former professors, tutors or instructors: The faculty of your college or university, especially those who taught in your major, should be part of your professional network.

Former classmates: Connect with your college or university classmates. Check the alumni directory of your college or university for possible connections.

Keep Your Network Alive

Don’t treat your network like an old reference book to store on a shelf and only get it out when you need to look something up or talk to someone that you need something from. Your network is a living thing that must be tended or it will die. The last thing you want is to get in touch with someone who doesn’t remember you or to miss out on a great opportunity because your contact who knows about it doesn’t think of you.

Make plans to touch base with any connections with whom you have, or had, a personal relationship, for example, former coworkers. If they aren’t local, jump on a phone call or Zoom meeting, or Google Hangout call to connect. Get in touch a few times a year even if it’s an email or card.
Also reach out when you make a change such as starting a new job or getting a promotion.

Don’t Let Shyness Stop You From Connecting

There’s a lot of people who struggle with shyness and are in danger of missing out on the benefits of professional networking but there are ways in which you can do this.
It’s not easy to reach out to others for shy people, we know that, but thankfully there’s so many resources these days like LinkedIn and Facebook that give you the opportunity to make connections without ever having to pick up the phone or go to a networking event.
These tools are a must for everyone, but particularly useful for shy, or even not very outgoing individuals.

If you are shy, it is also helpful to look for situations in which you feel the most comfortable and use those opportunities to form relationships. For example, participate in an activity you enjoy and you will meet others who also enjoy it. Doing volunteer work will also give you a chance to meet people with whom you have something in common.

So those are my tips and the importance of building your professional network.
Build your professional network and always remember it’s a living breathing thing so tend to it like you would any relationship, by connecting on a regular basis and sharing your expertise as well because we all have something that can help someone else.
Here’s to building your Professional Network.


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