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6 Ways To Boost Your Professional Network In The New Year.

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  • Sunday, 01 Jan, 2023
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6 Ways To Boost Your Professional Network In The New Year

Improvements in behaviour and performance are common New Year's resolutions. It's common knowledge that a person's professional network is crucial to their success, yet all too often we sit back and assume our network will get stronger on its own with no effort from us. It's easy to mistake mindless social media browsing at lunch for genuine efforts to expand one's professional network. To put it simply, they're different. Don't make the mistake of becoming apathetic and letting your network stagnate; professionals with great networks actively try to grow them (or worse). Get a concrete strategy for expanding your professional network in place before January ends. The following are five suggestions to assist you in accomplishing that goal.

Tip #1 – Deepen existing relationships

As you expand your professional sphere, remember that quality, not quantity, is often more valuable (if not more). You shouldn't only aim to increase your network by a factor of two, but should also think about ways to strengthen the relationships you currently have. Don't ignore a new connection you've created until you're in desperate need of their help. Instead, when you don't have something specific to ask for, reach out to a coworker or new acquaintance. Dr. Melanie A.

Katzman, author of CONNECT FIRST: 52 Simple Ways to Ignite Success, Meaning, and Joy at Work, advocates preparing a little bit for a meeting with a colleague to facilitate a more in-depth, meaningful discussion.

Tip #2 – Develop a monthly networking lunch schedule to broaden your network

Certainly, you should network with a high-ranking official or an expert in the field well before you need their help. Sadly, most of us wait until there's a problem before urgently trying to locate someone who knows the person we want to influence, which may lead to subpar outcomes. Attempting to strengthen a connection at a time of stress seldom ends well. Instead, set up a monthly plan of coffee or lunch to strengthen your relationships. Maybe it doesn't sound all that hot right now, but after a year, you'll be pleased you did it. Extremely elementary.

Write down the names of six persons with whom you'd want to forge closer ties in the coming months. (Consider people who may be able to guide you in the right direction, such as your boss's boss or other senior executives, subject matter experts in areas where you're lacking, coworkers from different parts of the organisation, etc.)

Put aside a lunch or coffee date once a month to meet with potential contacts. You should take into account any slack periods of the month or week when deciding on a date (to avoid potential conflicts). Send an email to everyone on your list so you can arrange to meet for lunch or coffee.

If you want to have a more casual meeting, it could be a good idea to have it somewhere other than the workplace.

You should follow the advice given in the first tip and get some research done. Keep in mind the fundamentals of networking, such as providing something of value, inquiring about the other person's interests and successes, and maintaining eye contact.

Send a thank-you note and a resource or contact suggestion related to your meeting within a few days. If you wish to maintain contact with this person, suggest another lunch or coffee date for in the next three months, and make it happen.

Tip #3 – Get more active on LinkedIn

Without a doubt, LinkedIn is among the most significant social networking sites for business professionals, and if you're not using it, you're probably losing out on chances to connect with individuals who might assist you (or whom you could benefit) this year, next year, or perhaps ten years from now. You are not required to make several posts each day or to comment on any and all posts. Keep in mind that it's more important to increase your network by 20% with high-quality connections than by 40% with random ones. Dr. Michael O'Connor, director of strategy and project management at Medtronic, stresses the need of having a fully fleshed-out profile on the professional networking site LinkedIn. Common blunders include posting an unflattering picture, being vague about your location, interests, and background, and failing to personalise your stream. Make it a top goal to become a LinkedIn regular and not just a casual user of the site. You should aim to become a thought leader if you are currently a frequent participant.

Tip #4 – Learn something new

The natural tendency to stay nearly entirely within one's own field of expertise is a contributing factor to the insularity of our networks. Focusing only on your area of responsibility is essential, but you might be holding yourself back if you don't branch out sometimes. Leaving your comfort zone is a great way to learn new things and meet new people, both of which may help you advance in your career. When you dabble in the waters of many fields, you expose yourself to a wider network of potential colleagues and collaborators. Attend a conference that is outside of your field, as O'Connor proposes. The networking fertile ground of new training events and conferences in new functional areas.

Tip #5 – Meet with your boss early in the year to secure approval to attend preferred conferences/training events

Attending a conference or training seminar might help you learn new things and meet new people. Despite the clear value of training and conferences, many professionals make the age-old error of waiting until the last minute to get time off work to attend. "Asking early in the year enhances your chances of having the money allocated before budgets become too tight," says Barbara Mason, CEO of Career Pathways Consulting. Training budgets are often the first to be cut, so keep that in mind! Take charge! Set aside some time in the latter week of January for a meeting with your superior. While waiting, make sure you have a solid justification for requesting funding for your desired conferences, training, or certification.

Tip #6 – Volunteer with professional organization conferences or serve on boards

Mason also recommends attending professional conferences and volunteering with relevant groups as ways to expand your network naturally. "Select board involvement based on your job sector or pick affiliation based on a cause that you're passionate about," she says. This is a fantastic plan since it allows you to expand your professional network on a consistent basis while also improving your CV. Absolutely, you should plan ahead and keep in mind the practicalities while deciding where to volunteer. Don't run for president if you're worried about the time commitment; instead, offer to assist plan the annual conference. It's a win-win situation all around to volunteer at a conference since you get to meet interesting people, make connections with professionals in your field, and spend as little time as possible there.

Do not forget that if you do nothing to alter your network, nothing will change. Set aside some time this week to reflect on how you would want your professional network to have changed in both size and quality by this time next year, and then formulate a plan to make those changes a reality. The money you spend on this might very well be the best money you spend on your career all year.


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