The right professional connections can provide much-needed insight and advice, as well as inroads to otherwise elusive career opportunities. That’s why having a robust, reliable network is crucial to a successful career. But how do you build a strong professional network? It’s best to begin with the basics.
Create a business card with important information such as your name, title or specialty, professional email address and phone number. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile to reflect your most recent career accomplishments. And reach out to catch up with any connections you may already have.
These preparatory tasks make a big difference and create a foundation on which you can grow your professional network using the tips listed below:
1. Attend networking events. Conferences and trade shows are great places to meet likeminded professionals with similar goals. Work the room, introduce yourself and hear what people have to say.
2. Join professional groups. Take part in local organizations, participate in meet-ups and get involved wherever and whenever you can. By involving yourself in the community, you will be more aware of professional events happening in your area.
3. Be a good listener. Show that you are genuinely interested in what your contacts have to say. Ask open-ended questions and absorb the information they share; you might even discover new career opportunities.
4. Give as much as you get. As you continue to grow your network, share your knowledge and expertise with others. Become part of their networks and offer to help or connect people when you see an opportunity.
5. Stay on the radar. Keep in touch with your professional contacts via social media, email and occasional meet-ups.
6. Ask for what you want. This one seems easier said than done. But whether it’s an introduction, a meeting, advice or feedback—if you want something, then don’t be afraid to ask for it.
7. Plan for the long-term. Although making a connection and exchanging contact information is a solid start, concentrate on forming long-term relationships that are mutually beneficial. You may not need a connection today, but someday you will.
At VA, we want to see you succeed in your career. Which is why we provide the tools, leadership opportunities and amazing benefits you need to excel. If you’re ready to begin your rewarding career with VA, then view open positions in your area and apply today.