Career, Confidence Conundrum, NAPW, STRETCH

Don't Be a Stranger: Keeping Up Your Network is a Different Challenge than Growing One!

Professional networking is crucial to building a successful career. This is true no matter what your education level is, the industry/profession you are in or seeking to go into, and whether you work for yourself or would like to access the higher echelons of employers. But just like how the importance of networking itself is ubiquitous regardless of how you want to attain a successful career, there are two distinct challenges to professional networking. The first is building that network in the first place. The second is maintaining your network: not letting your contacts go cold.

Make the Time to Stay in Touch

You need to make the time for maintaining your professional relationships. While this can be a challenge, it’s not as difficult as it seems.

Not that dissimilar to friendships you have in your personal life, you’ll have professional relationships with people who you see once a week or several times a month. There’s contacts you’ll only see once a year or during certain events for your industry. But you just need to make the effort not to be a stranger: connect on social media, add them to your email list but don’t forget to send personal emails to catch up.

If you’re going to be near your contact’s area, ask if they want to get together for coffee or something more. Offer to meet up at conferences and other events. Even if they’re local, you need to make the effort both online and offline to stay in touch.

This time is an important investment so that you will always have people to trade knowledge bases with, and sound ideas off of at any time.

Branching Out Online and Having the Confidence to Send that Message

Much like meeting people in person that first time, breaking the ice long after you’ve met can feel awkward. But it doesn’t have to feel that way: while tone can often be a hard thing to decipher in a text message or email, a friendly hello isn’t. All you need to do is reach out to your contacts every now and then and ask how they’re doing, what kind of projects they’re working on.

Having the confidence to make this move has a cumulative effect. When you can stop feeling shy about approaching people online, you can also feel less shy networking in person and start making bolder social interactions. Once you have that comfort level established, it makes things like asking about

prestigious job openings or lucrative business opportunities seem easier and also less awkward for both parties involved.

In maintaining an active and diverse network, you need to have the right balance of reaching out as well as reciprocating. You have to be there in turn: take the time to respond to their messages and answer questions. In addition to learning about opportunities and sharing expertise, you know you’re doing networking right when your contacts are introducing you to other people they know and growing your network even more without additional effort.

Networking doesn’t start and stop at talking to people about available jobs and gigs; it’s about trading ideas and knowledge. If you want to have long-lasting professional relationships, staying in touch both online and offline is critical and dropping a line can’t only be during times that you need something.

Building and Managing Your Personal Brand Through a Strong Network

Your personal brand and professional reputation are comprised of many moving parts: your more tangible branding such as professional photos and graphic design, then your online reputation which is personified by reviews and endorsements from your peers and clients.

When you have a strong and diverse network full of people who speak highly of you, your reputation and brand start to precede you. This leads to opportunities coming to you instead of the other way around.

By making a true effort to connect to people and understand them, it creates a stepping stone to success that only breeds more success.


Megan Bozzuto