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6 Networking Resources People Don’t Use Enough

6 Networking Resources People Don’t Use Enough

Looking for that next job, internship, or resume bullet? Competition is fierce out there, but you can get a leg up on the competition with these six networking resources that people don’t utilize well or often enough:

1. Professional career counselor.

Conduct an internet search for “career counselor” in your area, and you may be surprised by how many options pop up. In an increasingly competitive job market, with most candidate’s moves broadcast far and wide by social media, the job hunt is dicier than ever. This growing consulting niche recognizes and respects that fact, and experts range from general advisors to the industry specific. Don’t want to spring for a personal session? Check out classes at your local library, community college, or chamber of commerce, or register for a webinar or online class. While you can find some resources for free, it is worth spending a few bucks when you need professional assistance. One-on-one time with a professional can help identify strengths and point you in the right direction, often with a Rolodex of referrals.

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2. Alumni network.

Did you graduate from college or high school? Did you ever play sports for a league, or belong to a hobby organization or social club? Have you ever been a part of a professional association; if not, are you eligible to join one? We often think “colleges” when we hear the words “alumni network,” but the net is much more broad. Expand your circle by all means possible. If you are feeling shy about reaching out, remember that these are the folks most likely to vouch for you as a person and as a professional. Be mindful of putting people first, networking second, but don’t hesitate to let them know what you seek, and why – networking is the reason alumni organizations exist, after all.

3. Friends of friends.

Play a true-life version of “six degrees of Kevin Bacon,” and start asking your friends who they know. Whatever you are pursuing, it’s guaranteed that someone knows someone, who knows someone, who can help you out. Even if that contact is simply a number to call and introduce yourself, hey, that is one more person out there who knows who you are and what you are trying to do – and this one is in the industry you want to be in.

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4. Local chamber of commerce.

Did you know that your local chamber of commerce exists to help businesses succeed? If your networking adventure has an entrepreneurial slant, dial up the Chamber and ask if they have any resources available to help your cause. You will likely be surprised at how much is out there.

5. Social media.

Surprised to see this one make the list? Think less time on Facebook, more time on LinkedIn. While you should take advantage of the opportunity to let family, friends, and internet stalkers know what you’re trying to do and why, don’t post any announcements until your accounts present a “you” that deserves to be helped. Think more professional, less “Sunday fun day” photo montage.

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6. Social or hobby clubs.

Do you belong to any social or hobby clubs, where you can share your passion for bowling, bee keeping, books, and even pursuits that do not start with the letter ‘b’? If not, get your Google on, find a club near you, and join it, now! Networking means meeting people, and your best “you” is one that is engaged, happy, relaxed, and excited about what they are doing – exactly how you are when you’re doing something you love. Bonus tip: if you’re a mother, join a local mothers’ club. Women are inherently hardwired to support each other, and no one realizes what a difficult task raising a child and growing a career is like other women trying to do the same thing.

 

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Need more ways to grow your professional network? Check out these 10 Business Networking Tips.

Featured photo credit: Luc Legacy via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

Traditionally, when you have a lot of ideas in your mind, you would create a text document, or take a sheet of paper and start writing in a linear fashion like this:

  • Intro to Visual Facilitation
    • Problem, Consequences, Solution, Benefits, Examples, Call to action
  • Structure
    • Why, What, How to, What If
  • Do It Myself?
    • Audio, Images, time-consuming, less expensive
  • Specialize Offering?
    • Built to Sell (Standard Product Offering), Options (Solving problems, Online calls, Dev projects)

This type of document quickly becomes overwhelming. It obviously lacks in clarity. It also makes it hard for you to get a full picture at a glance and see what is missing.

You always have too much information to look at, and most often you only get a partial view of the information. It’s hard to zoom out, figuratively, and to see the whole hierarchy and how everything is connected.

To see a fuller picture, create a mind map.

What Is a Mind Map?

A mind map is a simple hierarchical radial diagram. In other words, you organize your thoughts around a central idea. This technique is especially useful whenever you need to “dump your brain”, or develop an idea, a project (for example, a new product or service), a problem, a solution, etc. By capturing what you have in your head, you make space for other thoughts.

In this article, we are focusing on the basics: mind mapping using pen and paper.

The objective of a mind map is to clearly visualize all your thoughts and ideas before your eyes. Don’t complicate a mind map with too many colors or distractions. Use different colors only when they serve a purpose. Always keep a mind map simple and easy to follow.

    Image Credit: English Central

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    By following the three next steps below, you will be able to create such mind maps easily and quickly.

    3 Simple Steps to Create a Mind Map

    The three steps are:

    1. Set a central topic
    2. Add branches of related ideas
    3. Add sub-branches for more relevant ideas

    Let’s take a look at an example Verbal To Visual illustrates on the benefits of mind mapping.[1]

    Step 1 : Set a Central Topic

    Take a blank sheet of paper, write down the topic you’ve been thinking about: a problem, a decision to make, an idea to develop, or a project to clarify.

    Word it in a clear and concise manner.

      What is the first idea that comes to mind when you think of the subject for your mind map? Draw a line (straight or curved) from the central topic, and write down that idea.

        Step 3 : Add Sub-Branches for More Relevant Ideas

        Then, what does that idea make you think of? What is related to it? List it out next to it in the same way, using your pen.

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          You can always add more to it later, but that’s good for now.

          In our example, we could detail the sub-branch “Benefits” by listing those benefits in sub-branches of the branch “Benefits”. Unfortunately, we already reached the side of the sheet, so we’re out of space to do so. You could always draw a line to a white space on the page and list them there, but it’s awkward.

          Since we created this mind map on a regular letter-format sheet of paper, the quantity of information that fits in there is very limited. That is one of the main reasons why I recommend that you use software rather than pen and paper for most of the mind mapping that you do.

          Repeat Step 2 and Step 3

          Repeat steps 2 and 3 as many times as you need to flush out all of your ideas around the topic that you chose.

            I added first-level (main) branches around the central topic mostly in a clockwise fashion, from top-right to top-left. That is how, by convention, a mind map is read.

            In the next section, we are covering the three strategies to building your maps.  

            Mind Map Examples to Illustrate Mind Mapping

            You can go about creating a mind map in various ways:

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            • Branch by Branch: Adding whole branches (with all of their sub-branches), one by one.
            • Level by Level: Adding elements to the map, one level at a time. That means that firstly, you add elements around the central topic (main branches). Then, you add sub-branches to those main branches. And so on.
            • Free-Flow: Adding elements to your mind map as they come to you, in no particular order.

            Branch by Branch

            Start with the central topic, add a first branch. Focus on that branch and detail it as much as you can by adding all the sub-branches that you can think of.

              Then develop ideas branch by branch.

                A branch after another, and the mind map is complete.

                  Level by Level

                  In this “Level by Level” strategy, you first add all the elements that you can think of around the central topic, one level deep only. So here you add elements on level 1:

                    Then, go over each branch and add the immediate sub-branches (one level only). This is level 2:

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                      Idem for the next level. This is level 3. You can have as many levels as you want in a mind map. In our example, we only have 3 levels. Now the map is complete:

                        Free-Flow

                        Basically, a free flow strategy of mind mapping is to add main branches and sub-topics freely. No rules to restrict how ideas should flow in the mind map. The only thing to pay attention to is that you need to be careful about the level of the ideas you’re adding to the mind map — is it a main topic, or is it a subtopic?

                          I recommend using a combination of the “Branch by Branch” and the “Free-Flow” strategies.

                          What I normally do is I add one branch at a time, and later on review the mind map and add elements in various places to finish it. I also sometimes build level 1 (the main branches) first, then use a “Branch by Branch” approach, and later finish the map in a “Free-Flow” manner.

                          Try each strategy and combinations of strategies, and see what works best for you.

                          The Bottom Line

                          When you’re feeling stuck or when you’re just starting to think about a particular idea or project, take out a paper and start to brain dump your ideas and create a mind map. Mind mapping has the magic to clear your head and have your thoughts organized.

                          If you can’t always have access to a paper and pen, don’t worry! Creating a mind map with software is very effective and you get none of the drawbacks of pen and paper. You can also apply the above steps and strategies just the same when using a mind mapping tool on the phone and computer.

                          More Tools to Help You Organize Thoughts

                          Featured photo credit: Alvaro Reyes via unsplash.com

                          Reference

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