Tuesday, August 02, 2011

 

How to build your professional network

Some people are better at networking than others. Some work hard at it. Some do it naturally, effortlessly. But for most of us, building a network is important. It gives us new business opportunity, new job prospects, and access to a myriad people who can help you succeed (and visa versa).

One of the most connected people I know in Seattle doesn’t really work at it. He’s a natural connector, a naturally engaging and magnetic person. He constantly thinks about how he can help others.

For most of us, however, we have to work at it. Ten years ago, I had no network. I knew the people I worked with, and had previously worked with, but that was about it. I knew that one day I’d want to start my own business, and that I couldn’t very well open the doors without any clients, any prospects, and few people who knew me or what I could do.

So I started networking. I started paying more attention to the people I met, started putting myself in more situations where I’d meet interesting people. I asked questions, learned about their perspective, and built a follow-up and organizational system to keep track of who I had met.

I launched a monthly email newsletter (the first issue went to all of 60 people). And I kept at it.

Ten years later, I’m still doing it. I do it every day. It’s a muscle I had to build, a habit I had to form, but now it’s a natural part of how I work.

There are no shortcuts. You work hard, meet new people, build value and do it every day, for years on end. That’s how you build a world-class network.

I know many who wish it was easier, but I’m glad it’s not.

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