It’s hard to believe that we are one month away from one year of working from home due to COVID. Whether you’ve been in the workforce for decades or entered in the past few years, having a strong professional network is vital, especially during uncertain times.
In my eBook, Your Fairy Job Mentor’s Secrets for Success (which Amazon just ranked #1 for Job Interviewing and #15 out of 100 new Career books!), I outline 5 ground rules for building a powerful network. Today, I want to recap some of the basics as many of us have had fewer opportunities to practice our networking skills over the past 11 months.
Let me start by speaking to why it’s important to invest in your professional relationships, even in a pandemic. The professionals who have built strong long-term professional relationships have the most control over their careers. The economy is cyclical – firms will merge and even disappear, but people you have built trust-filled relationships with will still be there for you.
Networking is a skill. The more we do it, the more comfortable we get. Here are my top 3 recommendations for building your professional relationships:
- Focus on the people you already know. We sometimes believe we have to be meeting new people to expand our network, but I have witnessed those who stay closely connected to the people they already know from previous jobs, schools and other shared experiences, build the strongest networks. Think about how you got to your current role. Who helped you along the way? An industry colleague, a professor, a recruiter, a former boss? When was the last time you connected with them?
- Don’t assume only people in power can help you. I have found over and over again, that it’s someone’s mindset, not just their position, that makes them a key contact. For example, there is a wonderful woman who I met 30 years ago when she was first put into a recruiting role at her law firm after being a secretary to a firm leader. At the time I was the President of the New York City Recruitment Association, and Linda reached out with questions about her new role. I shared resources with Linda and we stayed in touch regularly for all her years in the industry. When I launched Wisnik Career Enterprises, Inc, in 1996, she was the first one to hire me to present a Time Management program for her attorneys. Now retired, she was the first one to buy my eBook and write a review. Linda is what I refer to as a “networking pearl.”
- Stay in touch with your contacts when you DON’T need anything from them. If you’re happy at your current role, this is the perfect time to invest in your professional relationships!
The best networkers are always thinking about their contacts and actively looking for resources that could help them. If you see something that reminds you of a person in your network, reach out and share information. This is where that phrase “Givers Get” really comes in!
The more you do for others, the more it’s going to benefit you, especially when you don’t need anything from them at the time. So ask yourself: Who can you help today? Make the introduction, send the link to the article or book.
Invest in your relationships now. It’s like money in the bank and will grow and grow and be there when you need it!