In this week’s Positive Networking® Tip+ we talked about the importance of building your Personal network—those people with whom you share a common interest. “These are the contacts that allow you to continue to develop professionally, to benchmark yourself with peers outside, to remain a bit on the cutting edge of your profession. These are the networks that people often use when they want to make a career move,” says Herminia Ibarra in her INSEAD Knowledge article, Networking is vital for successful managers.
STEPS TO BUILD A STRONG PERSONAL NETWORK:
- Identify the people who fit into your Personal network category. Go though your database of connections and then make a note of how you met them. This will trigger new ideas of how to build your Personal network, but it will also remind you to reconnect with these people. For some it might be simply sending them an article. For example, if you have a group of people you have golfed with over the years, is there a story about the Masters that they would all enjoy?
- If you met people in your Personal network through an organization, perhaps you should invest more time in that organization, either by going to events or volunteering on committees or taking a leadership role.
- If you didn’t meet your Personal network connections through a group, how did you meet them? LinkedIn? Meetup? Toastmasters? Continuing education courses? Through a friend? How can you enhance those relationships?
- If you find that your Personal network is limited, maybe you need to expand that network. For example, could you belong to a work-related professional association–e.g. Human Resources, Sales and Marketing, professional engineers association, alumni network in your city? We believe that everyone should be engaged in some manner in their alumni network, and face-to-face events are what alumni associations do best. They often bring in great speakers, host wine tastings and support local sporting events and tournaments. Sign up for your alumni newsletters so you will find out about upcoming events and then attend, either on your own or with a buddy.
- Your Personal network is a wide-open opportunity—anything that allows you to explore areas of interest from volunteering in your community, engaging in politics at any level, or joining a hiking club.
- Make the commitment of a certain number of hours each month to enhance and build your valuable Personal network. You’ll develop new skills or simply have a heck of a lot of fun.
SERIOUSLY, I AM TOO BUSY!
But, if this sounds like way too much work, and you have a precious amount of time left in your week to spend with your family, it’s worthwhile to look at ways you can develop your Personal network and include your family. Sometimes it’s nothing more than inviting the parents of the friends of your kids over for a barbeque, or saying yes to coaching your daughter’s baseball team — you will meet all the parents! You are exposing yourself to a diverse network and building supportive friendships.