The worst time to begin building your professional network is when you need it to work for you. You don’t want to find yourself making requests for help without ever having given help in the first place.
To build and grow your network, especially with high-visibility sought-after experts, you have to master the skill of proactive, one-way giving long before you need to be on the receiving end.
Here are 3 things to give to your professional network today for it to grow:
- Give them an update. Let your network know how your career is progressing, especially if they played any part in helping you overcome a major career challenge or in helping you achieve a recent career milestone. They’re invested in your success and would love to be kept abreast. An email, warm letter, voice message or phone chat are effective methods of keeping your network up-to-date.
- Give them an acknowledgement. When someone in your network achieves a career milestone, acknowledge it. Everyone loves to be acknowledged for their hard work, however few receive it. Be the person who easily gives praise for a job well done and who loves celebrating and championing other peoples’ success.
- Give them an opportunity to achieve more success. Open doors of opportunity for your network that might otherwise be closed. Introduce them to someone whom they can have an informational interview with, write a LinkedIn endorsement or testimony of their work, send them a job lead, share their events with your network or refer a prospective client their way. Model and master the behaviors of connectors and center of influences, even if you’re not an innate connector.
When you consistently give to your network in an authentic and meaningful way, it will grow.
You’ll build the professional relationships and have a strong network of people who can help you, not only during your next career crisis, but also when you want to take your career to the next level.
Begin by first focusing on what you give and how you contribute to your network versus what you get.