Network for Relationships; Not Need

Dear Bettie Boomer:

For more than 10 years I have happily worked for my college alma mater.  Based on the values in which I was raised, working in an environment that fosters learning, fellowship, social responsibility and faith has been rewarding and fulfilling. I’ve felt secure in my professional community and haven’t seen a need to network outside of my workplace.

Last month my comfort zone shattered when the University unexpectedly eliminated my position.  Now I’m faced with reaching out for help from people I haven’t seen in years.

With my eldest son in college and my youngest a senior in high school, I’m faced with the prospect of college loans. I’m too young to retire, but clearly not a twenty-something tech-native. As I look at the job search landscape, I’m not sure where I fit in. I’m unclear how to position my experience. I’m paralyzed. Where do I begin?

Please advise.

Need Networking Help[su_expand less_text=”SHOW LESS” link_color=”#006BB3″ link_align=”right”]

Dear Need Networking Help:

I’m sure you’ve heard this; nonetheless, I encourage you to approach each day with a positive mind and your heart filled with a sense of opportunity. That being said, your letter brings up the dichotomy many face when networking.

Often professionals do not network when they don’t perceive a need. However, when the need arises, they feel it’s too late and often regret neglecting their professional network.

All too often, professionals tell me they are too busy to network. They say it would be nice to have a diverse network of relationships outside of the office, but it’s not a priority.

The truth is, we all need a strong network made up of relationships, not just social media contacts or people in our email address book. Building a community of influencers should be a part of your lifestyle. I recommend that everyone invest at least one hour per week building and nurturing a personal and a professional network.

Tips for Building Your Relationships

  1. Create a Circles of Influence spreadsheet. Who are the leaders who have impacted your life personally and professionally?
  2. Identify four people with whom you’d like to further your relationship.
  3. Reach out to them through personal contact (email, phone call, social media private message, etc.).
  4. Be interesting and informative when reaching out to contacts. Be prepared to give and support them. Be observant. Compliment their achievements. Notice their values. Recognize what is important to them – family, causes, hobbies, etc.
  5. Remember you are developing a relationship. Keep in touch just as you would with a friend. You can’t just reach out because you need something. Find opportunities to share common interests.

Tips for Building Your Online Rolodex

When resolving to expand your online network, consider the following:

  • How big does my network need to be in order to leverage platform algorithms? In LinkedIn, you need a base of 500 quality connections.
  • How big is your industry radius? If the majority of your network is composed of co-workers, you need to actively look at networking options to meet and connect with professionals in other companies. It’s unrealistic to assume you will always work for your current employer.
  • How big is your industry radius? The average worker changes jobs five to seven times, and often changes careers at least once. It’s important to keep your career opportunities open by knowing contacts in a diverse range of industries. In addition, seek to have a diversity of professions as well.
  • How current is your network? Your network is only as strong as the strength of the relationships. Have you kept up with the people in your network? Do you make introductions, share articles and give recommendations? Networks need attention to survive and thrive.
  • What are you doing to strategically grow your network? In addition to responding to networking opportunities as they arise, fill gaps in your network by connecting with a wide range of professionals. Devote time each week to nurturing your network. Give to get.

By embracing a proactive approach to strengthening relationships within your network, when the need for a referral or an introduction arises, you’ll have a team on your side willing to support you.  

Best wishes for building your network of influencers.
Bettie Boomer[/su_expand]