Everyone talks about the importance of building a network of strong relationships. Some are naturally better at this than others. For those of us for whom it feels difficult or even overwhelming, here are three things you can do to begin:
Focus on what you can give. Many people only think of networking when they need something, but successful networking is founded on respect and reciprocity. Make a practice of sending interesting articles to those you know would benefit from them. When attending an industry-event, invite a colleague to join you. As you do these things, you will increase your credibility as a team-player and someone adept in their field.
Schedule it in. With so many things vying for our attention, it’s natural for networking to slip to the bottom of the list, if it makes the list at all. Set an alarm in your calendar to remind you once a week to take a couple actions to reach out to others. It needn’t be a huge chore; making or renewing two points of contact a week will keep your network growing.
Follow through. The biggest way to hurt your network is to prove yourself unreliable. Don’t offer favors you can’t deliver on, and if you do offer to help, always follow through. If it’s taking a little longer than anticipated, update them so they don’t feel forgotten.