professional network

How to Build Your Professional Network

Everyone has heard the saying that you are a combination of your five closest friends and that the five people you most associate with will have a strong factor in how you develop as a person. These five closest friends are your network, and if they can determine your personal development they will also play a strong role in your climb to finding success.

When you think about successful people and study the steps they took to achieve success, they often share many similar attributes such as being driven, focusing hard on the task at hand, and excellence in their specific skill set. Often less considered but equally or even more important than all of these is the network of people that the successful person has surrounded himself or herself with. When understanding the importance of networking, you should realize what networking is, why a network is important, and how to build a professional network for yourself.

What is networking?

Networking is any means of interaction with others for the purpose of exchanging ideas and developing professional or social contacts with others. Every day we network with others, whether it be a quick conversation with a stranger or running an idea of yours past a close friend.

When it comes to a professional network though, you should weed out the more common friendships and focus on the connections that can help you advance. Although anyone can and does network on a regular basis, it is important to have a deeper understanding of why building a network is beneficial in order to network effectively.

Why is networking important?

Networking is a crucial part of becoming successful because through networking you can build lasting and powerful relationships with others who have a similar mindset and goals as you. By building networks, you are essentially signing a contract that will put you together with others with the purpose of mutually benefiting both parties and focusing on a similar goal.

In Robert Kiyosaki’s book The Business School: For People Who Like Helping People, he makes the point that “The richest people in the world build networks. Everyone else is trained to look for work.” The significance of this is that people who are wealthy and successful often do this by establishing their own networks and using those networks to create success, rather than using their resources to work for someone else and serve as a lower-function to someone else’s network.

Building a network is not the only key to finding success, but through a network, your efforts and achievements will increase exponentially. By shifting the weight of a project from being all on your shoulders to share as a group, you will feel less pressure to slow down or quit when times are tough, and more motivation to power through and accomplish the goal as a team.

How to build a network?

There are several resources and options when establishing a network, but here is are a few ways to get started.

1. School/University

Building a network at your school can be a great opportunity if you are a student or recent alumni. By starting at your school, you have the advantage of already being surrounded by educated and similarly-minded students, who are also likely ambitious and looking for work. Also, by joining the school clubs and registered student organizations, you will be put in an environment with plenty of networking potential.

2. Work

Establishing a professional network with co-workers has many advantages as well. By looking to build a network with co-workers, you can choose who you want to work with based on how you have seen them perform in their positions at your job. Also, as a co-worker, you will already know if your personalities and work ethics would work well together or not.

3. LinkedIn/Online

Online methods such as LinkedIn can be another great opportunity when building your network. LinkedIn is mentioned specifically because it is currently the largest professional networking platform available, and it is free to use. Another benefit to LinkedIn offers search features that allow you to find a community based on common interests, experiences, skills, or other categories that can help you find people to network with. The benefits of networking online are that you can talk with people who you might never get to meet face-to-face, collaborate online, and expand your network quickly and efficiently.

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