Networking outside of your organization is an integral part of building a well-rounded career. This is Part 4 of a 4-part series on assessing and improving your career.
Part 1, was about the importance of self-awareness. Part 2 was about building and cultivating important key relationships in your career. Part 3 highlighted the importance of networking within your organization.
Do you want to be considered an expert in your field?
External networking and visibility are important. Do you want to know and connect with others in key corporations that you may be interested in working for someday? Do you want external connections, like the internal ones, who become a part of your tribe, who you can reach out to for different business purposes?
The answer to all of these questions is in external networking.
How do you effectively network outside of the organization? Conferences are great opportunities for networking. You are there to learn something but also, to meet people in your field. I have met some of my most important contacts, both in corporate life and now as a coach, at conferences.
Networking is always about getting to know others effectively. They want to network with you too, so networking is a reciprocal activity that could lead to mutual benefits in the future. Networking can expand your influence and help you to grow. So many times, clients will come to me and say they don’t have a good network or they don’t really work at it. Don’t wait until you are looking for a job to build your network. Do it now! Get out there and build!
Linked In is really an outstanding tool for networking. I usually challenge my clients to go out to Linked In daily and link to 2 new people or go out and send a note to someone you already know on Linked In, just to keep in touch. Linked In lets you know birthdays, anniversaries, or promotions/job changes. What a great opportunity to reach out to your connections. If you want to go even further, invite connections to coffee or lunch to catch up.
What about networking groups?
Networking groups are an excellent way to join likeminded people. There are groups for every industry and role. You can go out to Linked In and search for groups in your industry or field. There are usually many. Similarly, there are other excellent networking groups such as Business Network International, or Women in Business Network. Some of these do charge a fee but make a determination upfront if the folks in this group would be an asset to your career. Sometimes, you can get your organization to sponsor you in a networking group as well.
Do you have a certification? There’s usually a networking group or association that allows opportunities to network.
Now, there are some cautions here. Take the time to truly understand the purpose of the group before you venture in. As I was trying to build my coaching business, I attended several Business Women’s Networking groups. Although the women were very nice and pleasant, I found myself inundated by requests to buy Tupperware, jewelry, crafts, insurance, and a curious product that guaranteed 24-hour lipstick. Well, OK. Fairly certain that these ladies…most of them retired…were NOT interested in any career/executive coaching. Ha! So choose your networking groups carefully.
The best Networking groups are more of a Mastermind group where everyone has the same idea, business focus, purpose, etc.
Take the time to work on your career, as well as your job requirements. They truly go hand in hand towards ensuring career success.
Can you take 9 minutes per day to work on networking? It really doesn’t take much time to reach out on Linked In or invite someone to coffee. Use those 9 minutes to invite, link in, or keep in touch. The benefits will be tremendous.
Lupe S. Wood, MS, PCC, is a certified Career/Executive Coach. She coaches individuals and leaders to career fulfillment, transition, and advancement. She also consults for results with businesses and solopreneurs. Her background includes 12 years in senior leadership for a Fortune 100 corporation and 7 years as a coach, with a Master’s degree in Organizational Effectiveness and Executive Coaching.
For more information, please visit my website at www.upcoached.com