Building an effective network is essential to establishing yourself in your existing profession or to help find a new career. A network is built slowly and steadily over time and must be nurtured and handled with care.
Strong networking skills are particularly important to women focused on sales and consultative relationships, as building that network works as a catalyst for expanding your client base. As an example, I work with financial representatives who help create strategies for clients to be better prepared for their financial future. Working with finances requires a certain level of trust and clients will usually only work with someone that is either a part of their network or referred to by someone in their network. This makes networking core to being a successful financial representative and other careers like it.
Below are five simple tips to help women in this career and others by improving their networks and broadening their career path.
1. Tap Into Your Natural Network
The people you already know are the foundation of your professional network—your friends, your family, your neighbors, your teachers, your classmates and the ones who have supported you throughout your life. Join various community programs and attend alumni events to make connections. Also, use various social media channels to reconnect with old friends or stay in touch with current ones.
2. Be Interested
Women tend to be natural connectors. So, instead of thinking about networking, think about making a connection. Talk to people and find out what their goals and passions are, and be interested in helping them. Collect their information and see if you or someone you know could help them with anything from their finances to their plumbing. My mom always told me, being interested makes you interesting. If you show interest in people’s lives, they will help support you in yours.
3. Understand Yourself and What Your Passions Are
If there is something you are passionate about, make sure to incorporate it into your work. This isn’t only a networking tip, but advice to help you find a fulfilling career. Being passionate about something will draw other passionate people to you, and your work will reflect that passion. My father passed away when I was a teenager and my mom did not have their finances in order. It became my passion to help women plan for their financial futures so they didn’t have to go through what my mother did. Understanding my passion and building my career around it makes me love my job every day and helps me build my network accordingly.
4. Find a Mentor
A mentor is a vital tool when it comes to building your professional network. This person is someone who is established within the industry and has a vast network of his or her own. Your mentor will not only help show you the ropes, but he or she will also help introduce you to the right people.
5. Ask for Referrals
Similar to a mentor, people within your network also have networks of their own. Talk to the people you have met about their networks, and see whom you would be interested in adding to yours. It sounds simple, but all you have to do is ask for an introduction and 99 percent of the time it will be made for you. Additionally, social media platforms such as LinkedIn allow you to browse and tap into your friends’ connections. This can be a tremendous asset to help ease your way into building an effective professional network.
Building a networking isn’t difficult, but it takes time and attention. By following these simple steps, you will hopefully have an easier time building your professional network to help move you further in your career.
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