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Top Five Ways to Make a Successful Network

Top Five Ways to Make a Successful Network

I get by with a little help from my friends.”

Just as Ringo Starr sang in the famous Beatles song, I wouldn’t have anywhere near the level of success I’ve achieved in my career without my network of contacts and friends. A strong network is one of the most essential tools to make your business work, and below, I’ve compiled the five best ways I’ve made my network operate successfully.

1. Social media is your friend

Social networks are a great way to sustain your already established network. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, for instance, are great venues for staying in touch with your networks. However, they’re not necessarily great venues for building your network—that’s why in-person meetings still exist.

The key to maintaining a network via social media is to participate: people in your network are often curious about your activities, and by posting relevant information often, you can actively keep yourself present to your audience and network. However, don’t forget that the phrase “too much of a good thing” exists for a reason: posting too frequently and over-sharing will often cause people to tune out your posts.

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2. Be friendly and professional

Friendliness and professionalism need not be mutually exclusive. In fact, I’ve found that by treating business contacts with the warmth and affection that you might reserve for your dearest friends, you are often rewarded with that same respect and affection.

Many of my closest friends began as customers and clients. You might find that you and your new business contact are talking business one moment, and the next, he or she is travelling from Munich, Germany to attend your wedding (this actually happened!).

3. Execute a stellar introduction

It’s no secret that introductions are tricky, but they can be your strongest tools when executed effectively. When introducing two people, I’ve always tried to think about the business needs at hand, and I try to determine ways the two can mutually benefit each other. Most people tend to just introduce the people and then expect them to connect directly. This works occasionally, but not all the time.

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I’ve found that an almost foolproof method is to provide a summary of each person’s background and the reason you’re making the introduction. When the introduction is put in context, it allows the two people to join the conversation with ideas of how they might be able to work together, and they have you to thank for that valuable initial meeting.

4. Look for quality, not quantity

All too often I see people attempting to build a large network of contacts by having what I like to call “headcount” contacts: these are people that you’ve met, but who might not necessarily be there for you in a time of need.

Remember, just meeting someone doesn’t mean that they’re going to be responsive to your requests and favors. From my experience, it’s more effective to have a smaller group of contacts that you can guarantee will be responsive to your requests.

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To build these groups, think about reciprocity—you should always be on the lookout for ways to be of service to your contacts. If someone needs a hand completing a task, be that hand. If someone needs to get in contact with someone you know, be that link. Karma is a good friend to have on your side when trying to build a strong network.

5. Meet in person

Don’t get me wrong—Twitter and Facebook are great tools for networking, but they’re not the best. In order to build a strong network, there’s no better way than meeting face to face. In-person interactions lead to quality time and help build a foundation of trust and understanding.

This might sound counterintuitive in the age of social media, but a wall post or re-tweet has nothing on a handshake; social networks are a great way to stay in touch with people after you’ve met. People almost always react positively to someone after they have met face-to-face and had a non-digital conversation.

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Let your network increase your net worth

Connections are important, but even more essential are quality interactions with those contacts and a mutual support that benefits both parties. As your network starts to grow, keep these five tips in mind. They worked for me, and I can almost guarantee they’ll work for you as well.

Featured photo credit:  icons social network and happy group of finger smileys via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on August 20, 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.

Check out these important listening skills: 13 Powerful Listening Skills to Improve Your Life at Work and at Home

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:

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4. Show Initiative

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

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?

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

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.

Not sure how to find the right mentor? Here’s How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed.

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.

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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.

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!

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Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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