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10 Ways To Build Stronger Networks In Work And Life

10 Ways To Build Stronger Networks In Work And Life

New business opportunities don’t just fall from thin air and happen with no effort involved. You can rely on luck and happenstance to bring you in new leads and open fresh business directions, but this probably isn’t the most reliable way to go. The same goes for life decisions and socialization, you can’t just wait for things to fall into your lap. A lot of people might argue that you can’t just come up to people and talk to them, since that can be considered rude and pushy. Well, nothing will happen if you don’t take a chance, right?

By nature, I’m not a very sociable person and I’m a bit, what do you call it, “socially awkward”, but I have learned through the years that you need to break your comfort zone once in a while, especially when you want something to change. Opportunities and progress lie outside your comfort zone and you should take this as a given.

1. Elevator small talk

Small talk in elevator

    Don’t let the name confuse you. This technique isn’t necessarily related to conversations taking place within an elevator. It is true that it got its name from situations in which you get new networking opportunities with people while riding in an elevator and you have only those two floors to present yourself and what you do to somebody and make a connection. This can be applied to networking opportunities in general. Remain confident, introduce yourself and your company, and reveal what geographical area you cover and what your specialty is. Don’t take too long, speak with confidence and give the other side a chance to talk. These are the basics but there’s a lot more to it.

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    2. Originality

    If you want to get business opportunities, you will need to offer something that nobody (or almost nobody) else in your niche offers. If you are just a part of the crowd, nobody will notice you and chances for networking will be scarcer.

    3. Don’t be a stranger

    Meeting in public

      Remember to follow up on referrals and check up on previous acquaintances and connections. Regular contact makes your connections stronger and it is a good idea to connect with people outside of the business context and develop a level of familiarity and intimacy with those around you. A good network is an active one.

      4. A mutual friend

      You can always find new connections through old ones. In all honesty, people are much more likely to trust somebody who they met through a previous acquaintance than a random stranger. If you lack this specific type of connection, ask people if they know somebody who can help you out. Chances are they do!

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      5. Targeting

      Dart hitting bulls eye

        Mutual benefit is always a good thing when it comes to bringing two sides together. Find people who fit your business or social profile, people with whom you can connect.Try to focus your networking efforts on the right people – use your people skills to get close and spark up a conversation, but don’t waste a lot of time on people you don’t really want be acquainted with.

        6. Concrete focus

        Don’t talk peoples’ ears off with irrelevant information. Try to find a common ground and keep your conversation partner engaged and interested. Talking for ages about long-term plans and ambitions holds no value for potential business partners… concrete suggestions do.

        7. Planning

        Connections are not Pokémon, you don’t need them all. Make a plan of connections you need and work towards achieving it. Don’t disregard those that don’t seem useful at the moment but focus on getting the ones that you need most.

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        8. Reliability

        Olympic torch

          Reputation is crucial when developing a steady network and you need to live up to your reputation always. People with shifty track records do not go far in developing new connections because everyone does a background check before engaging with new business partner.

          9. Diversity

          Don’t be too narrow when making connections. Some of them might not be useful at first glance but they might come in handy when some of your other connections need them. A good network is solidified when all members have benefits from being a part of it.

          10. Social networks

          Keep up with the times and use the Web to reach people of interest. There are more than a few social networks intended for business, the best choices for professionals being LinkedIn and Google+. Don’t just post on Facebook and leave a few comments – try to connect with those influential in your industry and improve your knowledge at the same time. It’s important to note that a increasing your online presence will increase potential safety risks, so it would be a good idea to protect your information by using a VPN or Virtual Private Server, which helps encrypt your online activity. Keep in mind that information leaks are a big stain on anyone’s business career.

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          I hope this can help you develop a steady and useful network which will benefit everyone involved. Networking might take time and effort but, in the long run, it pays off and can resolve potentially difficult situations.

          Featured photo credit: Sony Pictures via sonypictures.com

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          Ivan Dimitrijevic

          Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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          Published on March 25, 2019

          How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

          How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

          Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up. You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out.

          But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

          Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

          “If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

          It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

          Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

          As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

          As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

          Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

          Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

          1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

          When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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          Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

          2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

          Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

          But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

          If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

          3. Go to All Office Networking Events

          Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

          If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

          Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

          Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

          The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

          Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

          4. Show Initiative

          Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

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          Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

          Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

          5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

          Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

          Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

          6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

          A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

          Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

          Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

          A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

          Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

          Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

          These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

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          Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

          7. Find a Mentor

          With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

          Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

          Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

          8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

          After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

          What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

          Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

          Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

          You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

          9. Set Your Professional Bar High

          Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

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          Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

          Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

          Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

          The Bottom Line

          Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

          “Half of life is showing up.”

          The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

          Remember, your career is your business!

          More Resources About Ever-Growing

          Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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