Who are the people in your professional network? This is a good question that was raised by a theme song for a classic children’s television show. The song taught children about the importance of interacting with a variety of people each day.
A component of the interactions focused on the many professions that people in the neighborhood represented and the need for children to understand what each person did at work.
Part of this process involved parents who reinforced the need to develop conversational skills with people within the community. What a simple concept for children to understand and practice!
Adults also need to know the people around them. There are many ways to accomplish this task. As working adults, we use networking as a term to identify how we build relationships with people in our professional neighborhoods.
Networking allows professionals to learn about an organization or industry of interest. Networking also allows professionals to develop communication skills, self-confidence, and interpersonal interactions with people at varying levels within an organization to gain new skills or find a new job. A critical component of networking success includes leadership engagement.
Build an Effective Professional Network
Leaders provide insight on how to make progress at work and suggest steps that will construct a portfolio of information required to plan a career or learn new skills. While there are many articles on how to network, few provide a framework for how leaders can help employees network.
Here are 5 ways that leaders can help team members build an effective professional neighborhood:
Understand the Importance of Building a Strong Internal and External Network
Leaders can better explain the steps to build a strong network when they understand the process. This is best accomplished when leaders build a solid business network with organizations across the company and within groups, including industry associations or commerce groups.
Share tips on what you experienced as you developed a portfolio of contacts and describe a few hurdles he or she will need to overcome. For example, provide a summary of actions to schedule an appointment with an extremely busy person successfully.
Get to Know Your Team
Understanding your team will provide knowledge about career aspirations and other areas of interest. This information can be used to determine the best networking activity. Also, get to know what hobbies team members enjoy. Participation in hobbies or social interest groups provides a great way to build a professional network of resources. The more you know about your team members, the better prepared you will be to assist them.
Role-play to Help Team Members Build Confidence and Conversation Skills
Engage team members in role-play to help them get comfortable with the idea of talking to a stranger. People tend to be reluctant when interacting with strangers. To reduce anxiety, create scenarios that reflect possible interactions during a networking discussion.
Following the role-play, offer advice on steps to demonstrate effective communication. For example, simulate the process of a successful introduction and major points to mention within the first minute of the discussion.
Leverage Your Professional Network to Assist Your Team
Leaders typically have several people within their network that are willing to help others. Resources from your network can be used to help team members with career planning or provide additional contacts that may be used to learn about different industries or organizational functions. Professional networking sites provide a great opportunity to build a strong network. Encourage team members to utilize this resource to get to know people that are indirectly connected to contacts.
Set periodic check-ins with team members to determine progress. Of course, this shows that you care about your follow-up will include action plans discussed, progress the member has made, and next steps.
You will want to observe significant milestones that your team member has made. Celebrate each success! Also, discuss any challenges so that the team member may create new action plans. Be sure your team member keeps a journal or record of accomplishments and updates his or her contact list frequently.
There are many ways that leaders can assist team members with building a solid network. The above steps are just a few that leaders can take to help team members develop the skills required to build a thriving network of resources.
By helping your team members build a solid professional neighborhood, your team will be connected to a vast network of resources who can help build career visibility and connect with others.
How Do You Build a Professional Network?
If you have ideas about your professional network that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!
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A thoroughly professional and well researched article. It is very interesting as well as informative and it flows very well. Congratulations Florida! Well done!!
This article can be added to your never ending list of transcendental accomplishments. Very well written! Thanks for sharing!!
This article was very well written. We all know the quote “it’s not always what you know, but who you know.”People sometimes forget how much help they had along the way up the ladder. Helping others to build their professional network is a great way to pay it forward.
This article has challenged me to think about how I can build a professional network around me. It’s also one that I will be sharing with my direct leader.
After reading this article I started thinking about how I impact the people around me personally and professionally. This falls in place with one of my commitments this year. Giving back to the community. Great topic. I enjoyed reading this article!!
“A critical component of networking success includes leadership engagement.” Wow! This statement transfers to countless aspects of life. Florida, thank you for giving me the much needed nudge!
This was a great article. This gives you the basics how to be an effective leader. Flordia displays these each and everyday and I am thankful for what she has added to my life.