Showing up as the version of you that makes your audience compelled to buy what you’re selling is a major challenge for many people. It can feel like bragging about accomplishments rather than sharing yourself as a brand.
So, what exactly is “professional networking”? According to professional resource websites, it is the process of building relationships with other professionals in your field. We’re going to explore 4 tips that will help you grow your professional while enjoying yourself and generating more engagement with your brand.
1. Professional Networking = Professional Profile
The past few years have made it very challenging to meet people in real life, so it has become tougher to expand your network without events, coffee dates, and general in-person socialization. However, we are extremely fortunate to have access to expanding digital communication platforms like Zoom, FaceTime, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, and more to develop and nurture our networks.
Showing up in these spaces for digital events and networking sessions, it’s not uncommon to look people up online prior to or even during the event. If you’re looking people up – they’re probably looking you up too! So, let’s get you prepared to be Googled!
It’s as simple as creating a personal business profile. Creating a personal professional brand and cultivating an online presence for your personal brand can not only help you with your networking but also build trust and stand out to the right people. For a guide on developing your personal professional brand – click here.
2. Modernize and Utilize Your LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn has changed the networking game for professionals. Not only are you able to connect with people from the comfort of your own home (hello sweatpants, hair tied, chilling with no makeup on) but you can stay up to date with professionals in your field and what they are doing in their lives. Engaging on LinkedIn can have immediate and lasting benefits. The platform saw a massive increase in connections and content since 2020 and with the growing digital professional space, will likely continue in this direction, making it a wonderful opportunity for networking.
Pursuit Academy had curated a list of tips on how to maximize your LinkedIn Profile – click here.
3. Develop a Monthly Networking Lunch Schedule
The best time to build a relationship with a networking partner is before you need it. We often wait until we have to create a relationship with someone because we need something from them; so why not create (and maintain) a relationship before we need it. How do you do that though? You’re probably asking yourself and an easy way is by creating a schedule of monthly relationship-building coffee dates and lunches here’s how to do it:
- Decide who you want to build a relationship with this year (potential mentor’s expert’s subject matters that you are week in leaders in your company etc.)
- Pick one day of the month for your lunch dates and pick a day that is slower during the week as to not create conflicts. Email your contacts separately to schedule the meetings.
- Pick a location outside of the office because that allows for a more natural atmosphere.
- As mentioned in tip #2, doing your homework is important because it allows you to offer value and depth to the conversation.
- Within a few days follow up with your coffee date for a meeting and offer a resource or contact relevant to your conversation. If it is a relationship you would like to continue to foster finish off by suggesting another lunch/coffee date within three months.
4. Expand Present Relationships
One of the best pieces of advice I have been given when I’m afraid to ask for something is: “the worst answer they can give you is a no,” which isn’t that scary when you think about it for half a second. Using your present network to expand your knowledge base, your prospective opportunities is an incredible resource. If you think about a time a friend asked you for help or a connection, how did you respond? Chances are, you jumped at the opportunity to help them out! Maybe you even felt flattered to be asked. We are programmed to be enthusiastic about helping others, but we are also, more often than not, hesitant to ask for help when it comes to our own needs. This psychology is a huge part of why people who ask for what they want get ahead, and people who hesitate, stagnate.
Being specific and direct with your ask is a fantastic way to make it easy to help you with your goals. Also, keep in mind that offering something goes a long way when asking for something. Good ways to frame these questions are, “I’m looking to get involved with someone with _____expertise because I can help them with _____.” If you can’t think of someone off the top of your head to reach out to; you can also post on social media stating your needs; you may become pleasantly surprised with the people who reach out to you who you may never have thought of collaborating with.
By creating a Professional Business Profile, updating your LinkedIn and adding the platform to your daily social media scroll, enjoying good eats with future collaborators and strengthening existing relationships, your professional network will flourish. Remember, networking is easy when you have the right tools to guide you in the direction you need to go; your network won’t grow overnight (just as Rome wasn’t built in a day) but by ensuring these steps are applied to your daily routine; you will see the growth you want to have!