Powerful connections can change your life, but how do you cultivate them? Building your network isn’t about adding people to a spreadsheet and numbering them for follow up. It’s about creating meaningful relationships and connections that mutually benefit both people. Productive networking requires consistent care, communication, and support. The more you focus on mutual relationships, the stronger your network becomes.
Help your network
Networking is all about mutually beneficial relationships. If you want powerful connections, you need to be one yourself. Consider what you learned, the advice that helped you, and other resources you can provide. Are there people in your network that could use that knowledge? Another way to help your network is by providing references. You can give out their business information to potential clients, or write them recommendation letters.
Find a reason to follow up
You will meet a lot of new people while networking, and it’s easy to lose track of a potential good connection. Find a reason to follow up with them after the event. Maybe they can offer you advice on your business model, or they have a book they recommended to you. It helps to establish immediate conversations outside of the networking event. Plus, the more consistent you are with your responses the easier it is to establish a relationship.
Ask for resume/cover letter help
One easy excuse to network with someone is asking for resume or cover letter help. It could be a senior manager you admire, or a valuable connection you have not spoken to for awhile. Your resume/cover letter will remind them of your skills and also opens the conversation to what you’re looking for in the future. Powerful connections will want to support you and connect you with the right resources. But, they can only do that if they know your goals
Thank the people who helped you. It shows them how valuable their relationship is to you, and that you acknowledge their support. No one wants to feel like the help they provide is taken for granted. Send e-cards, thank you emails, small gifts, social posts, or other tokens of appreciation.
Expand your brand
Online networking provides instant communication and new opportunities. If you limit yourself to one or two platforms, you will limit your audience. Each new profile you make on a different platform expands who sees your professional skills or business. Update your social networking sites as often as possible with current contact information. Here are some tips on how to optimize your social presence.
Networking and professional relationships need nurture and care. No one wants to be forgotten. Continue to engage with your network anyway you can. Some ways you can consistently engage with them is by commenting on their social media posts, reacting to their LinkedIn comments, and sending emails asking how they are doing.
One platform you can add to your online presence is the International Association of Women. Our network is a diverse community of professional women around the world who are looking to accelerate their careers or businesses. We offer online and in-person resources such as weekly webinars/workshops, unlimited networking events, educational library, mentoring, speaking opportunities, local chapters, financial benefits, and more! Learn about IAW membership here.