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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

          More by this author

          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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          Last Updated on January 13, 2020

          Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change)

          Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change)

          Are you challenged at work? Do you regret career decisions? Are you happy? If the answer to the questions leads to a negative feeling, it is time to determine next steps.

          Many people settle for a career that no longer brings satisfaction. Most will respond by stating, “I am surviving” if a colleague asks them “How’s work?”

          Settling for a job to pay bills and maintain a lifestyle is stagnation. You can re-direct the journey of a career with confidence by taking control of future decisions. After all, you deserve to be live a happy life that will offer a work-life balance.

          Let’s look at the reasons why you need a career change and how to choose a career for a more fulfilling life.

          How to Know if You Need a Career Change?

          The challenges of dissatisfaction in a career can have a negative impact on our mental health. As a result, our mental health can lead to the obvious appearance of stress, aging, weight gain and internal health issues.

          You deserve a career that will fulfill the inner desire of true happiness. Here are common factors that it is time for you to change your career.

          Physical Signs

          Are you aging since you started your job? Do you have anxiety? What about work-related injuries?

          It feels amazing to receive a pay cheque, but you deserve to work in an environment that brings out the best of you. If the work environment is hazardous, speak to your boss about alternative options.

          In the case that colleagues or your boss take advantage of your kindness, feeling the anxiety of fear of losing your job because of a high-stress environment may not be right for you.

          Mental Signs

          One out of five Americans has mental health issues, according to Mental Health America.[1] In most cases, it is related to stress.

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          I remember working at a job in a work environment where harassment was acceptable. I had to walk on eggshells to avoid crossing the line with colleagues. My friends started to notice the difference in that I seemed out of character. It was then that I knew that changing a career to freelancing was the right decision.

          Here is a list of mental signs of workplace unhappiness:

          • The tension in your neck
          • Difficulties with sleeping
          • Unable to concentrate
          • High anxiety
          • Depression

          If you start to feel your self-esteem is diminishing, it is time to consider if working in a high-stress industry is for you. The truth is, this negative energy will be transferred to people in your life like friends and family.

          Are You Sure You’re Not Changing for the Wrong Reason?

          Most people that feel they need a career are frustrated with their situation at work. Do you really understand your current situation at work?

          The reason it is important to think about the work situation is some people decide to change career for factors that are insignificant. Factors that can potentially change if the person works in a different department or new organization.

          Here is a list of unimportant factors to think about before you decide to make the transition:

          Desire for an Increase of Salary

          The desire for a higher income can persuade some to believe they are in the wrong career. The issue with this is more money requires more time in the office or taking on several positions at a time.

          At times, pursuing a high-income role can be the complete opposite of what one is expected. It is what happens when a colleague leaves a company to a new one and returns several years later.

          Overnight Decision

          Let’s face it. We make overnight decisions when stressed out or disappointed with situations at work. The problem with a quick decision is the negative and positive points is overlooked.

          Rejected for a Promotion

          I have heard stories of managers that applied ten times for a position throughout a 5-year period. Yes, it sounds to be a lengthy process, but at times, a promotion requires time. Avoid changing a career if you do not see the results of a promotion currently.

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          Bored at Work

          Think deeply about this point. If you work a job that is repetitive, it is normal to feel bored. You can spice it up by changing the appearance of your desk, socializing with new employees in a different department, joining a leadership committee at work or coming to work with enthusiasm. Sometimes, all it takes is you to change jobs into a fun situation.

          A career change can take time, networking, education and the job search process can be a journey. Here is a list of things to consider before making a final decision:

          • How long have you worked in your career?
          • What is the problem at work? Do you work well with the team?
          • Do you receive recognition?
          • Can you consider working in a new department?

          If after reviewing your work situation and none of the above recommendations can help, then it’s time to make a career change.

          How a Career Change Will Change Your Life

          I have a friend that works in the medical industry. She was once a nurse working directly with patients in one of the top hospitals in her area. After five years, she started to internalize the issues with her patients to the point where she felt depressed after work hours. It impacted her relationship with her family and she almost lost herself.

          One day, she decided to wake up and take control of her destiny. She started applying for new medical jobs in the office. It meant working on medical documentation of patients which is not an ideal career based on what society expects a medical professional to perform. But she started to feel happier.

          It is a classic example of a person that was negatively impacted by issues at work, stayed in the same industry but changed careers.

          A career change can fulfill a lifelong dream, increase one’s self-esteem or revive the excitement for one’s work.

          You know a career change can be the right decision to make if you experience one or all of these:

          • Working in a negative workplace: Don’t be discouraged. A negative workplace can be changed by working at a new organization.
          • Working with a difficult boss: The challenges of working with a difficult boss can be stressful. All it takes is communication. You can address the issue directly with a manager professionally and respectfully.
          • Feeling lost about what you do: Most people stay at their jobs and settle for mediocrity because of the fear of failure or the unknown. The rise to success often comes with working a tedious role or stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. If you fear the idea of being involved in activities that are new, remember that life is short. Mediocrity will only continue to make you feel as if life is passing you by.

          How to Make a Career Change Successfully

          The ultimate key to success is to go through a career transition step by step to avoid making the wrong decision.

          1. Write a Career Plan

          A career plan has a dead line for action steps that includes taking new courses, learning a new language, networking or improving issues at work.[2] A career plan should be kept in your wallet because it will motivate you to keep pursuing the role.

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          You can learn how to set your career plan here.

          2. Weigh Your Options

          If you have a degree in Accounting, write down five positions in this industry of interest. The good news is diplomas and degrees can be used to a variety of roles to choose.

          You don’t have to stick to what society holds a top job. In the end, choosing the right role that will make you happy is priceless.

          3. Be Real About the Pros and Cons

          It is time to be honest about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the job market that are impacting the current situation.

          A SWOT Analysis of a career can include:[3]

          • Economic factors
          • Direct competition: Is this role in high demand?
          • Location: Do you need to move? If the goal is to work in tech and living in Cincinnati is not realistic, consider moving to San Francisco.
          • Achievements: To stand out from the competition achievements like awards, committee involvement, freelance work or volunteering is a recipe for success.
          • Education: Do you need to go back to school? Education can be expensive. However, online courses, webinars or self-study is an option.

            A career blueprint is the first step to creating realistic goals. A person without goals will be disappointed without a clear direction of what to do next.

            4. Find a Mentor or Career Coach

            A mentor or a career coach that works in the desired position can share the pros and cons of working in the role. Here is a list of questions to ask a mentor:

            • What is required to be successful in the role?
            • What certification or educational development is needed?
            • What are the challenges of the role?
            • Is there potential for career advancement?

            A chat at a coffee shop with a mentor can change your mind about the desire for a career change.

            Find out how to pick a good mentor for yourself in this article: How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed

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            5. Research Salary

            Some people decide to change careers for a role that pays less or perks like benefits to make up for the difference in previous to potential salary.

            It can reveal the cities throughout the country that offer a higher salary for those that have an interest in relocating for work.

            6. Be Realistic

            If your goal is to move up into an executive position, it is time to be honest about where you are in your career.

            For example, if boardroom meetings, high-level discussions about financials or attending weekly networking events are boring, an executive role may not be right for you. If you are an introvert and working with people every day is nerve wrecking, you need to reconsider a job in sales.

            Ask yourself if you can work in this role for the next five years of your life. If other benefits that come with the role are enticing, other roles are fit that will make you happy.

            7. Volunteer First

            A person that wants to become a manager should take on volunteer opportunities to experience the reality of the position.

            Becoming a committee member to pursue a presidential opportunity can provide a perspective on leadership, maintaining a budget and public speaking.

            Volunteer in a role until you are certain that it is the right opportunity.

            8. Prepare Your Career Tools

            I recommend asking a boss, colleague or mentor for career tools. If you prefer professional assistance, you can seek out resume writing assistance. Here is a list of things to consider when preparing career tools:

            • Online search: Search your name online to see what shows up. I recommend searching images that are on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or other sites on a personal account. The last thing you want to realize is the job search is unsuccessful because there is unprofessional content you posted online.
            • Be LinkedIn ready: Recruiters conduct a LinkedIn search to see if the work experience is the same on a resume. Remember to change the wording on LinkedIn from the resume, or it will appear there was no effort put into creating the profile.
            • Portfolio: A portfolio of work is recommended for people that work in the arts, writing, graphic design and other fields. I recommend a portfolio online and one that is available in hand when attending job interviews or networking meetups.
            • Cover letter: A good cover writer will always impress your potential employers. Here’s how to write a killer cover letter that stands out from others.

            Bottom Line

            It takes time to move towards a new career. Pay attention to the physical and mental signs to maintain your health. You deserve to work in happiness and come home stress-free. If you avoid the common mistakes people make, you will find a job and discover the role in a career field that is the best fit with your skillsets.

            Master these action steps and changing career paths will be on your terms to make the best decision for your future.

            More About Career Change

            Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

            Reference

            [1] Mental Health America: The State of Mental Health in America
            [2] MIT Global Education & Career Development: Make a Career Plan
            [3] Creately: Personal SWOT Analysis to Assess and Improve Yourself

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