“I worked nonstop and started to feel bad about missing networking opportunities because of lack of childcare.” Sound familiar?
That’s the sentiment I candidly shared in my book Getting Unstuck: A Guide to Moving Your Career Forward. It’s also a feeling that often echoes in my conversations with clients, especially around February’s annual International Networking Week. How can we as women be better networkers while attending to our other responsibilities?
There’s no doubt that networking can give your career a good boost. Many employment opportunities are never posted, and they’re ultimately filled by someone that knew someone that knew someone else. It’s usually not what you know, but often who you know that makes the difference on your career path. Networking doesn’t have to be an overly calculated scheme. Try reframing it as an opportunity to connect with people from your past and share an update on your present. It’s important to share your career goals with your network. Here are four ways to maximize your networking skills
Know where to network. Review your current relationships. We often have access to people with more experience through alumni networks, professional groups, and even your Employee Resource Group at work. Don’t forget about your friends, family, neighbors, and even past co-workers. Your network knows you and what you can do. Are you leveraging those contacts effectively?
Make use of social media and online spaces. Being online makes it possible for us to connect with people that we may not otherwise have access to. Social media can be a great tool for networking. Take the time this week to work on your professional social media presence, especially LinkedIn.
Make networking part of your routine. If you follow no other advice, keep networking. Find a way to make it work. Working mothers, check your area for lunchtime networking opportunities. Introverts, find an online community to engage with. Those self conscious about your speaking ability, consider joining a public speaking group. This can serve as networking and a confidence booster. Whoever you are, just keep networking!
Unfortunately, networking has gotten a bad rap over the years. However, I can honestly say that networking has been one of the larger influences on my career success. Who I am connected to is often an influence on opportunities I have access to. Fortunately, networking has taken on many different forms over the years. Networking has become more fluid allowing us to find networking opportunities that better align with our goals and personalities. The catch is to find what works best for you to meet your career goals.
Keep that same energy. Once you’ve made a connection with someone to expand your network, make sure you stay connected. Exchange information. Save their information in a reliable place. Stay in touch with them beyond the initial meeting. When building a network and strengthening your own #networking skills You can’t expect to receive more effort and value than you provide. The same energy you hope to receive, is the same energy you should put out.
Take action! Here’s your three steps to take this month for networking:
Identify three people you’d like to connect with and provide an update on your work.
Reach out, say hello, and see how they’re doing. No request. Just warm wishes and a general check-in.
Update your profile. Already updated? Your task is to connect with 2-3 new people. Already connected? Post an update on your progress and tag me for accountability!
Still feeling a little stuck? Add these #GettingUnstuck affirmations to your daily routine.
People say yes to me
My network is expanding daily
I am a connector