5 Steps to Building a Better Network
Andrea Tecce, November 27, 2017
Fourteen years into my career, I fell off a cliff. I had been hard-working, technically proficient, and focused on my clients and team. Despite this, I hadn’t figured out that building a network was critical for my development, both personally and professionally.
You’ve likely heard the saying “it takes a village to raise a child.” Your network is your village to help you grow both personally and professionally. My village has helped me in countless ways, including helping me to overcome the “cliff” in my career. Through my network, I’ve found business referrals, board opportunities, invaluable resources to support my kids, amazing peer mentor groups, and most importantly, an introduction to my new team at Lead Star.
When considering your network, I recommend starting as soon as possible, because it takes time to grow and nourish. Independent of the timing in your career, job responsibilities, or goals in life, everyone can benefit from, and in turn contribute to, their network. Leadership is about being of service. The same holds true for your network.
Follow these building blocks for developing and sustaining relationships to build your network:
- Be authentic: Never judge a new contact by its cover. Be genuinely interested in who you meet.
- Diversify your network: Don’t be exclusive in building your network. Your strongest connections may come from unexpected encounters beyond the workplace.
- Be of service: This is the foundation to nourishing your network. The acronym RAISE is applicable here:
- R = Refer (Make introductions and connect people)
- A = Advise (Provide guidance/mentorship both professionally and personally)
- I = Inform and Invite (Share information and invite others to events/activities)
- S = Support (Support your network in their Civic and Charitable efforts)
- E = Employ (Provide employment opportunities/referrals and career advice)
- Dedicate time: Give yourself weekly goals for the number of people you will connect with virtually versus in person and how many new individuals you plan to add to your network. Leverage technology and social media to stay connected with the appropriate balance of human touch. It takes, on average, 5 to 7 touch points over an extended period of time to build a strong relationship.
- Have fun!
As you build your village, remember to be authentic and of service. Most importantly, don’t expect anything in return. Networks are not built overnight. Invest the time in building relationships so you can rely on your village when you need it.