Networking is absolutely vital to how successful you will be in your career and is considered your greatest asset, especially in sales where the strength of your network is associated with how well you perform. With the rise of remote work, networking can be more difficult than it used to be. However, no matter where you work from there are still many simple ways to connect with new and existing contacts so long as you take initiative to meet new people virtually or in person and nurture those relationships you build. With that being said, here are 5 ways to strengthen and expand your professional network.
Linkedin is without a doubt your highway to the world and the easiest way to connect with people professionally. First and foremost, you should make sure you optimize your profile and include all the necessary information about yourself that will help give insight into your professional life. Even if you actively connect with others via Linkedin, if your profile is incomplete it will leave a negative first impression. If you don’t already, it is useful to pencil in some time per week to engage with other people’s posts by liking, commenting, and sharing relevant content in order to expand your reach to first, second, and third-degree connections. You should go as far as sending messages to people you admire or would like to work with. If you are scheduling your first meeting with someone, ensure you read up on their profile to find anything in common that can be used as talking points.
2. Events and Trade-Shows
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has limited in-person networking sessions, many events and trade shows are being hosted virtually now which can still be a great opportunity to meet like-minded people. You can find these events by joining professional associations, following pages related to your industry and field via LinkedIn, or speaking with professionals who have similar interests. These events not only allow you to meet new people but also help broaden your knowledge and skill set to help further advance in your career.
3. Current Network
People often underestimate the power of their current network and the opportunities it can present. Revisiting your current contacts and deepening those connections will not only help retain those people as part of your network but can also lead to referrals, reviews, and introductions to other industry professionals. Don’t be afraid to take the initiative and ask to be introduced to someone you are interested in getting to know as the majority of people are pleased to facilitate connections.
4. Former Contacts
Getting in touch with former professors, colleagues, business contacts, customers, suppliers, and university/college alumni is also a great way to build a strong network as you can bond over shared experiences. Especially since those experiences were motivated by similar goals and interests, there is no better way to be presented with a new prospective network.
5. Family & Friends
Friends and family are usually the most willing to share contacts of people that you are interested in or they think can be beneficial for you to reach out to. It is often the most successful method of networking as there is already an established sense of trust between parties. Do not hesitate to simply ask either as the people in your circle may not know your position or level of interest in meeting new people and making new connections.
You can only do so much and get so far on your own which is why it is paramount to prioritize networking in order to broaden the opportunities you are presented with. The key is to be sincere and ensure you follow up with anyone you reach out to. Showing interest is an easy way to make a good impression on somebody. Networking does not come naturally and it is certainly not a one-and-done deal — it requires time, effort, and strategy.
Author: Bryan Payne is the Chief Talent Scout and Founding Partner at Just Sales Jobs with over 25-years of experience in sales and leading high-performance sales teams. Bryan and his team specialize in recruiting top talent within the Greater Toronto Area to Kitchener Waterloo. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org