Networking: Are You Getting it Right?

Networking Are You Getting It Right

So you’ve been attending conferences and industry events. Maybe you’ve been paying your annual fee for that association membership. And you’ve spent plenty of time building your LinkedIn profile. In other words: you’ve been networking like a pro. But have you really? A clued-in networker aims for more than a full social calendar – they also have a diverse range of connections.

Assessing your current network

What does your circle look like? Chances are, it’s largely made up of professionals from the same industry as you. If you’re in IT, your network is other IT people. If you’re in marketing, you have marketing and communications people. Take a look at your connections and work out how many industry insiders you have versus professionals from completely different fields.

To profile your current network, identify people you would feel comfortable messaging and inviting for a catch-up. Of these contacts, what percentage work in the same industry as you? If the answer is more than 70%, you probably need to diversify your network.

Why build a network of non-peers and non-colleagues?

Like most people, you probably made your industry connections intentionally – after all, they are the people who can recommend you for new roles and speak with authority about your skills. So why would you need to expand your circle of influence?

Well, there are a few reasons. Stepping outside your networking comfort zone allows you to:

  • Encounter new ideas and avoid groupthink/echo chambers

  • Lay the foundation for easier career transitions (if you decide to change professions down the track)

  • Discover opportunities to create mutually beneficial partnerships

  • Connect with potential new clients or customers.

How to build a balanced professional network:

  1. Ask for introductions.  your 

  2. Look within your personal friendship groups. 

  3. Attend events for other industries. 

Tips for networking:

  • Build relationships, not connections. 

  • Don’t expect immediate pay-offs. 

  • You’ve probably rehearsed your elevator pitch until you’re blue in the face, but making friends is more about listening than speaking. When you listen attentively, you show someone you care about them. And that’s a strong foundation you can build on.

The power of a diverse network may not be something physical that you can see grow, but it is still worth investing time and effort. If nothing else, you could end up with great new friends! Unleash the potential of the new year and check out the rest of our articles on how to make this your best one yet.

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