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Brave the Cold: Get Out and Network
February. Is it STILL winter? It really is, so now is a great time to rekindle the fire of your professional passion.
Get Out and Network
Whenever someone mentions networking, many of us automatically think of networking events and cringe inside (or outside, if we’re being real). I know a lot of extroverts who just love these events, while introverts (like me) would rather be anywhere else. Fortunately, there are plenty of other ways to network!
Bridge Maintenance: Reconnect with Who You Already Know
Effective networking is about relationships. Real, genuine relationships. Step one should always be to nurture our existing relationships, especially connections we don’t interact with regularly.
Take a few minutes to scroll through your contacts and send personal messages to those you haven’t talked to in a while. Ask about their lives, offer genuine help where you can, and/or see if you can grab a coffee to catch up! Just remember, you’re here because you care about this person…not just what they can do for you.
Build New Bridges: Expand Your Network
Hopefully your network will grow organically, with your current connections introducing you to new ones. Sometimes, however, we have to help it along. If there’s someone, in particular, you’d love to know better or who you think would be instrumental in helping your career, don’t be afraid to take the first step!
When you make your initial contact, try to find any existing connection to build from. Did you work for the same company? Did you go to the same school or grow up in the same town? Do you share a passion for hang gliding? We don’t always have an existing connection, but often it’s there if you just look for it.
Once you’ve determined if you have a connection (and what it is), it’s not a bad idea to embrace sincere flattery. Did they write an article that resonated with you? Did their keynote address inspire you in some way? What are they doing that makes you interested in them? We all love to hear that what we are doing is making an impact, and who doesn’t love to talk to new people about our passions? Just be sure to take an interest in them and their story, not just what they can do for yours!
And when you take the step to make the connection, make sure you’re buying the coffee!