Build Your Network for a Bulletproof Career
Porter Gale, author of Your Network Is Your Net Worth, said: “I believe that your social capital, or your ability to build a network of authentic personal and professional relationships, not your financial capital, is the most important asset in your portfolio.”
During times of job loss or insecurity, your network can be invaluable. The daily news has had many recent examples of companies laying off workers, restructuring and cutting costs. In the past month I’ve become aware of multiple people in different industries finding themselves out of a job and others who are nervous that they may be next.
So, how do you build a network? Building your network is about establishing and nurturing mutually beneficial relationships. It has everything to do with growing a successful career and it is not about being political.
Here are five ways you can build your network:
- With your current employer – Three things you control and are responsible for are the quality of your work, the results you achieve (or help your team achieve) and your relationships (how you communicate and interact with coworkers, clients and customers). Consider these as the three legs of a tripod. Work quality, great results and positive relationships together establish your reputation at work and are critical in building your work network. Like the tripod illustration below, it takes all three to stand.
- Become known as a sought-after resource. With the three legs of your tripod firmly placed, you are establishing yourself as a known resource for your department, function, or team. Your reputation opens doors for opportunities to work on bigger projects or more influential programs where you’ll often engage with cross-departmental team members or leaders. Learn about your new team members. Connect with them on LinkedIn and grow your network.
- Join functional, technical or industry groups that speak to your desired area of growth. Attend events when possible. This action can springboard you into broader networks that allow you to gain knowledge and get to know others in your area of desired expertise. As you meet new people, connect with them on LinkedIn. Bring back the new things you learn and share them with your co-workers. Apply what you can to make improvements or introduce the latest trends and thinking that address organizational needs.
- Grow your social networks. As you grow and build your professional and work network, it’s also important to connect with friends you’ve made in pursuits outside of work. Connect with them on your social networks. Learning more about each other allows you to share career information others may find useful. Positive relationships are critical in all areas of your life.
- Join or work with local, alumni, professional or non-profit boards. Affiliating with relevant external organizations not only fosters career and personal growth; it also develops your capabilities and expands your network. You get to know about many new people, and they get to know about you.
As you grow your network, make it your practice to connect people when you believe mutual benefits are possible. You’ll likely find that people in your network do the same for you. That’s the beauty of successful networking! This also can lead to being recommended for consideration for job opportunities that others in your network know about.
People recommend others for opportunities when they perceive a person is the right fit, and they know their reputation is on the line with a referral. A recommendation made by an insider about someone who they think is a great candidate often propels that person’s resume to the top of the list for consideration.
Strong network connections work both ways. Regardless of your industry or organization, at times circumstances beyond your control may affect your job. This is when you may want to reach out confidentially to your trusted network and let them know of your situation and desire for change. If you need to do this, you are not taking advantage of your network; you are reaching out as they have reached out to you in the past.
That’s how networking works. It is also why it’s vital to continue to develop your work reputation throughout your career while constantly building your network.
How can coaching help you develop your work reputation and build your network?
Lance Hazzard, PCC, CPCC, is a certified Executive Coach and Executive Team Coach helping people and organizations achieve success. Lance and Eric T. Hicks, Ph.D., co-authored Accelerating Leadership, published in June 2019. Lance is Executive Coach and President at Oppnå® Executive & Achievement Coaching. More information on the book, Lance and Oppnå® Coaching can be found at the links below: