|Are you looking for one, simple thing you can do to advance your career this year? Read on…
Up until recently, my professional network was comprised mainly of the incredible men and women I served with in the Army. These are the people who get me – our relationships were forged under fire, we bonded over good times and bad, and when I left active duty these were the people whose counsel I sought.
I recently had an opportunity to expand my professional network by attending grad school. Initially, I thought I would get the most value out of my education from what I learned in the classroom. Sure, I grew academically, but what surprised me was that the greatest growth I experienced was due to the people in my cohort. Their diverse perspectives, challenging conversations, and experiences so unlike mine enriched my life in meaningful ways. I now have many more people to call on when I encounter professional challenges, which is always a great thing.
So, I’d argue that the best thing you can do to develop your career in 2020 is to grow your network. What you know is important, but you’re likely at a stage in your career where relationships matter and who you know can help you advance because you’re being exposed to new ways of thinking.
I get that you’re busy and might not have a lot of time to take on this challenge, so I’ve created a list of ways to be efficient in building new relationships:
Be visible – LinkedIn is a great platform to connect, engage, and share with others what you’re working on or challenges you face. It’s also a great place to share with people what you’re thinking and expose yourself to new thoughts.
Find common ground – Search out people who have similar roles but work in different industries. There’s mutual benefit from sharing best practices from different industries. Your school’s alumni network is a great starting point in finding these folks.
Follow up – How many times have you met someone, had a conversation, got their business card, and did nothing? Write an email to that person letting them know you appreciate the conversation and would love to stay in touch. Send them a LinkedIn invite. Also, let them know you are available to them if they may need something (see below).
Not all about you – In the “what have you done for me lately” culture, we often think one-sided and what others can do for us. Change your perspective and ask yourself, how can I add value to this person? Maybe it’s giving advice or sharing a contact.
Take 10 minutes each day – You might feel that building your network takes time and you have numerous other things competing for your attention every day. I’ve found that carving out just 10 minutes a day devoted to building your network and reaching out to those already in it can make a significant improvement.
I am here at Lead Star working a job I love because of networking. We all know its valuable so now’s the perfect time to start being more purposeful with it.
Are you a networking superstar with tips to share? Send me an email. I’ll gather your best practices to share with our audience.