Tips for better professional networking

All of us are busy.  The next deadline, the big system upgrade, the important department meeting, converting the report to the new format, just the endless list of tasks.  They never stop.  Who has the time for professional networking?

Theoretically, all of us.  It’s part of being a professional.  Tending to the care and feeding of your own career.

image from pwnetwork.com

But seriously, the introvert side of me wants to retreat back into my shell.  When I think of attending a networking event with a room full of unfamiliar people, all that crazy noise starts shooting off in my head and my courage shuts down.

There’s another approach.  Smaller, less stressful but with the same outcomes.  This article by blogger Herbert Lui explains 4 ways to pursue professional networking in a more natural, less stressful way.

He has some good ideas.

  1. Reach out to 1 person a week.  Having a personal conversation is the essence of relationship building; a requirement for professional networking.
  2. Connect with internal colleagues.  There are so many mysteries about our organizations.  Someone in another group or department could probably shed some light on the questions that you have.  It’s ok to reach out and inquire.  Meet the team upstairs or in the other building.  Learn more about what they do.
  3. Get to a preferred method of communicating as quickly as possible.  Specifically for contacts that originate from LinkedIn, there’s a more direct way to communicate and it’s a lot more personal.  So whether it’s email, IM, texting or something else, move the conversation.  It will immediately feel more personal.
  4. Set up or join a Mastermind group.  Mr. Lui explains that it’s a meet-up group whose focus is exclusively on helping each other improve.  The concept sort of reminds me of the formal and informal mentoring teams I used to participate in when I worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers.  Even though we had an assigned mentor, I personally preferred the organic discussions that occurred when I met up with 2 or 3 people in the company that I admired.

APRA-GH is a great networking channel for all of us.  It can be the big event or it can be a single conversation.  Just so you know, if you are a member, you now have access to the member directory online with email and telephone contact info.  Hover your mouse over the About Us tab on the website to access the directory.  You’ll have to sign into the website, so if it’s your first time signing in, you’ll need to set your password by clicking the Forgot Password link, but it’s super easy!

Click on the image of the coffee cups to read Mr. Lui’s article.

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