Professional networking strategies for career advancement

Professional networking is cultivating business acquaintances and professional friendships that advance your career. If you develop strong professional networks, you open stable business and career channels that have far reaching implications on your professional life. If you neglect professional networking, you risk limiting aspects of your professional development. But, how does one build a strong professional network?

Building a strong professional network

For some people, building strong professional networks comes easy, while for others building professional networks is not easy. If you are wondering whether you have a strong professional network, it is likely that you don’t. Luckily, there are ways you can easily develop strong professional networks that correspond with your career field.

Ways to develop professional networks

1. Break away from your regular group of friends and acquaintances and look to collaborate with new people. Attend networking functions and events and focus on making at least one connection at each function.

2. Find new and interesting things to engage people you meet at the functions and actively engage them in open dialogue. Make sure the dialogue exchanges are not one-sided. This will help you learn more about the people you meet and what makes them tick.

3. Avoid overt sales pitches when interacting with new people. Instead, actively listen to what they have to say and focus more on helping them in whichever way you can to arouse their interest in connecting with you and to encourage them to actually become your professional friends.

4. Broaden your professional networking efforts from “networking” events. Interact with new people in other places like in charity events or even your local church. You can learn a lot and forge value friendships when you make an effort to learn more about someone sitting next to you in church or volunteering with you at your local charity.

5. Be active on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. LinkedIn, for example, has members from over 200 countries who represent every continent, including executives of all Fortune 500 companies. Creating professional social profiles and actively participating on the social media sites can help expand your professional network beyond boarders to every continent.

Bottom line

People will not become part of your network until you forge strong relationships with them. So, follow up on every new acquaintance you make in the most appropriate way possible, such as through regular e-mail correspondence or telephone conversations.

Remember professional networking is more than just exchanging business cards; it is about establishing power networks based on mutual friendship. Keep your lines of communication open to ensure you don’t miss any business opportunities that may arise from your networks.

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