Most people think that a professional network is only needed when job-hunting. Maintaining a professional network throughout your career is a necessary and important task that need not be difficult. A strong, professional network builds confidence and could prove to be a valuable safety net should you get laid off or fired. A recent article in Forbes Magazine reported that most of us search for jobs every eight years. That is a big incentive to growing a professional network.

Learn how to manage and boost your professional network with the following tips.

1. Maintain Visibility

People have to know who you are in order to recommend you and your available products and services. The key here is to stay visible, without becoming a nuisance. Develop an eye-catching business card and get to know the people around you, especially the people you work for and with.

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2. Build Relationships

It is essential to get to know the people in your network. Get in touch every five weeks or so for a coffee or light lunch. If you have the opportunity to boost their career, by all means do it. They are sure to return to favor for you at a later time. Be willing to be a professional reference.

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3. Use LinkedIn

This is a no brainer. LinkedIn is free to join, and there are hundreds of groups available to boost your professional networking. Get to know people. When you and they are comfortable enough, exchange recommendations. This network builds your credibility in a number of ways and is well worth the time and effort.

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4. Join Professional Organizations

Get to know colleagues in your profession. These are the best people to keep you informed on what is changing in your profession and how to adapt. Joining may not be free, however a professional organization is one of the easiest ways to stay and get connected professionally.

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5. Go Beyond Your Industry

Cultivate professional networks outside of your industry. This is a great way to boost your network and meet new people. Networking with those outside of your industry can give you a fresh perspective on your professional development.

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6. Find Connections

Seek out people who have been in your industry for longer than you have. Consider their advice and learn from their experience. It absolutely matters who you know. Surround yourself with people who support your career as you support them in theirs.

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7. Build, Build, Build

Building relationships is integral to maintaining and boosting your professional network. Be personable and share your experiences with the people in your professional network. Be the person that others first think of for a solution, a bit of advice, or a warm welcome.

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8. Host An Event

The event you choose to host need not be large or elaborate. In fact, you may want to consider hosting a series of two or three smaller events, so as to include everyone. Host a dessert party, a wine tasting, or simply serve simple appetizers. In any case, everyone will be relaxed and have the opportunity to get to know you.

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9. Volunteer

Giving to others is a fantastic way to stay visible while building your professional network. The effort need not be elaborate or time-consuming. Consider an hour a week or a month to give back to the very community in which you are building your career and your reputation.

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10. Follow-Up

Always stay connected to your professional network through staying in touch. Strengthen attachments thorough listening to others in your network. Don’t ask for a series of favors, rather ask how you can be of help to the other person. In this way relationships are indelibly strengthened and maintained.

Networking is a crucial skill for any entrepreneur. 5 Networking Connections Every Entrepreneur Needs to Make

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