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Grow your Professional network

Growing your professional network has tons of benefits- from having a source of vast professional experience to tap into to unlocking immense opportunities for yourself- , and it is also one of the most effective ways of meeting people who can help you grow your career or your business. Your professional network can open doors for you that otherwise could not be opened and the more you network now the larger and more beneficial your network will be.

Whether you are already a successful individual or you’re still in school, building your own professional network will allow you to reach higher heights. Effective networking requires practice and study, and much like investing, networking benefits compound over time.

Here is how you can go about building your network.

Reach out. Reaching out first is always the best way to begin connecting with others. Carefully select the people that will add value to your career or your business. First ask them and then tell them what you’re interested in, what you’re passionate about or where you want to go next with your career. Set a goal to reach out to two people you can connect with in a week or month. You can choose areas to meet them or you can connect with them on social sites like LinkedIn.

Go outside and attend events. You can’t meet people if you don’t go outside. Every industry has conferences and trade shows that provide great networking opportunities. Not every event is labelled as a “networking event”, but every event is indeed an opportunity to network.

Engage. After meeting the people you have carefully selected, engage with them. Frequently visit the places that the people you want to connect with can be found at and just be friendly and nice, not creepy. Engage them on social media as well, comment on their posts, have conversations with them regularly, retweet their tweets and share their articles.

Create and add value. Always think about adding value before getting value from others. Start thinking of ways you can be more of a producer than a consumer. The more value you add to others the more people will want to connect with you. Spend a day in a week creating content, building your personal and professional skills which you can share with others. Make sure to share your knowledge and expertise and offer to help when you see an opportunity to do also. You can share your value either online or in person.

Do good acts for others. Share an article or a podcast link to someone who needs it. Endorse someone and write up a recommendation on linkedIn. Do something good for one person every week and don’t expect anything in return. Helping someone is going to give them extra incentive to return the favor.

Try connecting up with people outside your industry. If your standard industry events feel stale, you might simply need to jump over to a related field. Shake things up and get out of your comfort zone, you never know what value or insight from someone in another industry might add to you.

Boldly ask. Asking is one of the easy ways to actually get a fast response to what you want. Ask your friends to introduce you to the people you want to know, ask your family and friends for recommendations, ask for advice from influencers, ask for a meeting or you can be bold and ask the person you want to be connected if they will be interested in connecting with you (Do your research with this one and do it strategically). You never know until you ask, and more often than you think, you will get the answer you want.

Follow up. Follow up on what you discussed with the people you connected with. Follow up on the people you met at events. Follow up on your promises. Follow up on emails. Follow up, follow up, follow up. Not following up will brand you as not serious.

Professional networking requires innovation, creativity and effort. Keep your eyes open for unexpected places to make new and lasting connections. So reach out to others, figure out how you can help them and most of all, get your name and face out there.

What strategies do you use to grow your professional network? Share them in the comment section below.