There are very good reasons for building a robust and effective professional network. These include: helping others - which is the most important in my view; being found, so that opportunities can come your way; and asking for help, should you need it. This is especially so in a crowded and increasingly competitive marketplace. Having a credible offer of value that you can promise, gaining visibility and building a sort of ‘good will credit’ in the bank account of others, are really at the core of networking.
There are inevitably some absolute no-nos that are worth knowing about.
- If you wait for a crisis or until you need something before you start investing in your network, you may be in for a nasty shock. This is because you haven’t spent the time and energy building and cultivating a pool of goodwill and loyalty strong enough for you to call upon reciprocation. When you need it - you really need it! So have a practical system in place for networking, underpinned by an ethos and start now, perhaps both on- and off-line
- In order for people to want to connect with you and to feel able to recommend you, they have to respect you, trust you and believe that you can deliver. Thus, any behaviour or statement that pulls away from being credible and authentic is counter-productive
- The very essence of networking is to help and serve others, not so that you can get something in return: that is likely to happen anyway. Therefore, anything that is not taking a genuine and sincere interest in the needs of others runs counter to the central tenet of networking
- Using your network to sell or pitch - this is a definite no-no. The goal of networking is to help others. The benefit will come back to you over time and often in indirect ways, hence selling/pitching is really frowned upon, for all the reasons already stated
- Not having a clear and cohesive message about who you are and the value you can offer: This lack of clarity makes it difficult for those with whom you wish to network to understand what you have to offer or even how they can help you. Develop a clear and authentic personal brand message which is projected consistently in the way in which you behave, what you write, what you post
- Finally, does your online persona - on all social media platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) - reflect the personal brand you wish to project? Thoroughly research yourself on Google to see what your professional network - and indeed, potential employers - can see. Inappropriate comments or photographs on social media display a lack of judgment, common sense and good manners, and should obviously be avoided