Life is too short not to make meaningful connections. Be authentic, follow your passion, cultivate relationships and use social media networking to accelerate your connections. Building a strong support network can open up doors for opportunity and is one of the most influential things you can do for your career success.
Find other women in business that share your goals, but don’t be afraid to move out of your comfort zone. Do you see that shy person sitting in the corner? She may be your next client. Find ways to collaborate, especially as an entrepreneur, in order to reach a level of success you never thought possible.
In her book, Your Network Is Your Net Worth: Unlock the Hidden Power of Connections for Wealth, Success, and Happiness in the Digital Age, Porter Gale defines “social capital” as your “network of authentic personal and professional relationships.” This is different from your “financial capital” and should form the most important asset in your career and business portfolio.
The bottom line: a strong network is money in the bank.
- Schedule Time to Network
Life is busy and if you don’t make time for networking it won’t happen (this goes for friendships too). Make this part of your weekly to-do list when you are planning your week on Monday morning. Subscribe to networking group mailing lists in your area. Put it in your calendar and attend the event (that’s right you actually have to go to the event in order to meet new people). If you work in public relations like me, check out Women in PR North America for events.
- Use Social Media Strategically
Did you just start a Twitter account, but not sure what to do next? Start by connecting with business women in your area that you would like to meet. Find out what networking groups they attend. Create Twitter lists of upcoming event feeds. Search hashtags.
- Know Your Personal Brand
Before you attend a networking event (or job interview for that matter), you need to know what you bring to the table. Who are you outside of your organization? What business skills do you have? As an example, I’m a publicist, personal branding expert and international business advocate that specializes in women’s lifestyle brands. My skills are in global media relations, social media and content marketing.
- Collaboration is Key
After you have attended an event, follow-up with your connections and book a coffee date (or phone call). Your immediate goal should not be to get something from this person (i.e. job prospect, new client, etc.). Your goal should be to learn more about what this person does and how you can potentially collaborate. In an unstable job market, you want to know who you can reach out to in a time of need. Most importantly, if you are starting a business, you want to build potential references and learn from other successful women.
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Do you have tips for building your personal network? Please comment below.
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