5 Proven Ways of Building Value-Adding Networks To Grow Your Career
By Lilian Wamaitha
The very concept of networking has been emphasized again and again. Be it a fresh graduate or an experienced professional, the importance of networking is indispensable. Of course when we talk about networking, it has to be the right kinds of networks- the kind that can take your career to the next level.
I like to compare networking to driving a car, if you want to reach your destination, then you got to take the right direction. Networking has to be value-adding for it to be worth your time. You know where you want to be in a few years and therefore the need to be in touch with the right people that can take you there. Here are fresh ways of building a network that adds value to your life.
1. Identify key players
Building a network is not an easy task as it requires connecting with the right people. We all have a desire to right above the completion and therefore come the need to find right people. These are key players in the industry who have the potential of influencing decisions. You will one day need to be promoted at your current job and it’s therefore necessary for you to remain in touch with the right people in top management. Some might see this as a desperate situation but it’s the right way to create contacts who will even come in handy in the near future.
2. Network downward
Most of us put more focus on upward networking and forget that the lower level networks are just as important. It seems like a golden opportunity when we have contacts in upper management but the truth is that this kind of networking only works in some situations. A time will come when you will need that colleague more than a top management executive. What will you do them? Therefore always strive to balance your networks- for that rainy day.
3. Add value
The best way to have a value adding network is to create value yourself. You don’t always have to be the damsel in distress every time. You can also be of benefit to others and this will go down well with your network and they will be more willing to help you than when you are just a person who cannot offer value to anyone else around them.
4. Keep in touch with people
A good way to ensure your network is beneficial is to keep communication open with people. If you are young, most of your peers will text more often than one-on-one or phone discussions. If you are older, then you likely call or meet for coffee to enhance your network communication. Often, during these interactions, people will hear about opportunities and will have the chance to recommend someone. If you promote communication, you’ll be on the minds of those in your network.
5. Avoid drama like a plague
Just because a network consists of professionals, doesn’t mean there won’t be drama within the group. You need to remain neutral and fair. When the dust settles, people are going to remember who took what side. The people who stay neutral will be in the best position because they can continue being friends with everyone. Staying neutral is a good way to ensure your network grows instead of dividing. Set the precedent in your network by treating others equally fair and acting in the way you feel all members of your network should work.
Building the right kind of network cannot be emphasized enough. Remember that networking is a process and if you are willing to put your time, energy and mind into strategies that are effective, you will see a huge return on your investment.