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5 Keys to Building Networks Over Time

5 Keys to Building Networks Over Time

The purpose of professional networking is to gain information, increase your visibility in your field, and establish personal connections that will help you advance in your career.  No matter how much you love your job, you should always be looking for ways to expand your networks because, ideally, your contacts will follow you from position to position.  A strong network allows you to get advice from trusted sources, to keep your professional knowledge current, to find career opportunities, and to support the careers of others.

Look for Contacts Everywhere

Your network should have lots of variety; individuals from different companies, career levels, and professions can add a range of perspectives.  Keeping in touch with your college friends who might be in different companies and industries is a great way to populate your network.  Joining a professional association in your field and regularly attending its events is also a smart idea.  Finally, investigate your company’s sponsored programs; many organizations provide opportunities for individuals to network within the company.  Training events, visits from management, guest speakers, or various types of interest-based events can yield the same type of contacts as an external event.

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Take One Step at a Time

Know that it takes time to authentically populate your network.  But also know that each new contact is a step in the right direction.  When I first got into educating people on twentysomething workplace issues, it was startling how helpful I found just one meeting of the Chicago chapter of the American Society for Training and Development.  I walked out of the event with business cards for several potential clients and mentors.  My network increased after only one event.

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Be Strategic

Before going to such an event, think about what you hope to get out of attending.  Is it general knowledge?  Is it a new contact in your field?  Or perhaps you are looking for someone to provide input on one of your projects?  Understand who the speakers will be at the event and how you might contact them or access their materials in advance of or after the event.  Also, learn what other companies and individuals might be at the event.  Prepare a few questions that you want to explore, and set a goal to answer them at the event. For example, if you want to do an informational interview—a thirty-minute conversation with an expert on a new development in your field—your goal may be to find someone at the event with that type of expertise.

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Be Personable

Many experts are willing to speak and share their knowledge, but some may not be as willing.  Don’t become discouraged.  It may take a few attempts at building your network to make a personal connection. Once you have received an initial response and are moving forward with an interaction—whether it’s in person or via e-mail or phone—be friendly, respectful, and conscious of the contact’s time constraints.  Confirm your contact’s available time and the topic you want to cover.  If you have the opportunity to sit down with a contact in person, remember to make eye contact, smile, shake hands firmly, and exchange business cards.  Ask thoughtful questions and listen carefully to the answers.

Follow Up and Return the Favor

If you are meeting over coffee or a meal, when the check comes, simply say to your contact,  “I invited you here today, so this is my treat.”  This, combined with a handwritten thank-you note, will make the best possible impression and leave the door open for future follow-up—which you should do, of course!  If your contact gave you any advice or suggested a course of action, touch base every few months with an update on your progress.  And since effective networking always involves give and take, think about ways you can help your contact in return.

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Last Updated on July 18, 2019

10 Warning Signs of Low Self-Esteem and a Lack of Confidence

10 Warning Signs of Low Self-Esteem and a Lack of Confidence

Self-confidence can be defined as a belief in one’s abilities and maintaining a sense of competence. On the other hand, low self-confidence can be defined as a lack of faith in one’s abilities and competence.

Self-confidence can fuel success, while low self-esteem can impede it. To avoid falling into patterns of low self-esteem and a lack of confidence, consult the following warning signs.

1. You check your phone while alone in social situations.

You find yourself unable to sit still during social situations with little or no friends. Instead, you find yourself desperately checking your phone to appear more socially connected.

Tip: Try exercising an affirmation such as “I am loved.”

2. You back down during a disagreement to appease another person.

You find yourself backing down in conversation often; you negotiate your views so as to avoid conflict. You would rather avoid experiencing rocky waters than express yourself honestly.

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Tip: Try an affirmation such as “my opinion matters” or “I live authentically.”

3. You are unable to leave the house without make-up or primping.

You gain a false sense of self-esteem from wearing make-up or primping. Instead of feeling self-esteem from within, you feel a need to primp in order to feel good about yourself.

Tip: Try a daily “I am beautiful” affirmation.

4. You take constructive criticism too personally.

You tear up in the bathroom after a coworker gives you constructive criticism about your job performance; you wind up yelling at friends when they criticize your choice in a date. Instead of taking criticism objectively, you react emotionally.

Tip: Try counting to 3 before responding to criticism.

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5. You are afraid to contribute your opinion in conversation.

You find yourself second guessing what you want to say before you say it, instead of diving into conversation without a thought. You may find yourself stuttering and engaging in negative self-talk.

Tip: Focus on your breath when you begin to second guess yourself to avoid over-thinking.

6. You are indecisive in the midst of simple decisions.

You change your mind after coming to a simple decision, such as what activity to do with a friend or what food to eat. Then once you come to another decision, you change your mind over and over.

Tip: Vocalize the affirmation “I am assertive and in control of my life.”

7. You cannot handle genuine compliments.

You reflect when someone pays you a genuine compliment, instead of graciously accepting the compliment.

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Tip: Practice the affirmation “I am worthy of love” or “I have many good qualities.”

8. You give up too soon.

You give up on your goals and dreams before you have hardly started. You lack confidence in your success, so you give up all together.

Tip: Practice the affirmation “I am a success seeker, not a failure avoider.”

9. You compare yourself with others.

You pay extra attention to those you deem more successful than you, and let your own self-worth take a plummet as a result. Instead of focusing on your journey and your journey only, you constantly look at everyone else’s.

Tip: Declare the affirmation “I am more than enough.”

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10. You slouch.

You display a low body stance: you do not stand tall, but instead let your body slouch downwards, sending the message that you are not proud of yourself.

Tip: Take a few minutes each day to focus on your body posture. Take a look at these 10 Graphs That Help You Improve Posture In No Time.

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Featured photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon via unsplash.com

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