Information, helpful advice, and commentary about topics relevant to relaunchers.

The Secrets to Building an Ongoing Framework for Networking Success

Notes from our webinar with Kristy Wallace, CEO Ellevate Network

On November 19, 2019, Kristy Wallace, CEO of Ellevate Network joined iRelaunch to deliver a webinar entitled, “The Secrets to Building an Ongoing Framework for Networking Success.” In the webinar, Kristy unraveled the whys, whos and hows of building a dynamic and ongoing professional network and provided many tips for ensuring its success. What follows is a summary of the webinar (click here to receive a link to the recording):

Although 85% of jobs are filled through networking, many of us don’t know how or are uncomfortable building that network. We're reluctant to reach out when an opportunity comes up. The key is finding opportunities that fit into your lifestyle and are authentic and meaningful to you.

Networking has come a long way through the intersection of personal opportunities and digital outreach. With the proliferation of niche interest groups, it’s easier than ever to find a comfortable place to start.

Networking is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle

In order to build a dynamic network that grows and builds strength over time, it’s important to look at networking as something you work on regularly. While that seems overwhelming, there are ways to build an ongoing cadence to connect with others and give them value - and be able to ask for something in return. Most of all, it’s possible to do this in a way that is not transactional in nature, but beneficial to all.

Assess your current network

In the webinar, Kristy gives participants an exercise to help assess the people who are currently in your network. While instinctively we assume that our networks should be comprised of people with similar professional and personal backgrounds in order to ensure an easy bond, Kristy points out that this may not be the most effective plan. Instead, a diversified network can offer opportunities and connections you may not have considered in a more homogeneous network.

Set goals and expectations

In order to build an effective network, Kristy recommends setting an intention and following up. Perhaps it’s a quarterly meeting with yourself and your personal “Board of Advisors” to determine your outreach plans, methods of contact, etc. Don’t leave networking up to passive measures – set an intention and follow through.

Find and build connections with the right people

Both digitally and personally, there’s a lot you can do to maximize your networking efforts. For example, check your notifications on LinkedIn each morning. Were you notified about one of your connections’ accomplishments? Share that with your network. Comment on a post. Show your support in a public setting.

Write personal notes (and keep them short and sweet). Be transparent and direct within the limits of this first outreach. Acknowledge what that person has accomplished and why you are reaching out.

Think about how to maximize your in-person networking time. Many groups and apps allow you to find out who will be in attendance before an event. Reach out to people beforehand. Tell them you'd like to meet them at the event – and try to meet a lot of people because you never know which conversations and connections can turn into opportunities. Then FOLLOW UP on those connections once the event is over. New connections are more inclined to help when they see that you’ve made the effort to follow up after an introduction.

Sustain your connections

Commenting on social media, sharing news articles and creating opportunities for ongoing touch points are important in building and sustaining your network. Be the catalyst in your community for new networking events. Most importantly, engage and then guess what ... follow up!

Ensure mutual benefits

Think about what you have to offer. It’s easy to discount what you have to offer someone else, but each of us has something (in fact, many things) that someone else finds beneficial. Write down the things you can offer to your contacts – and what you want from them. And remember that networking does not have to feel like an uncomfortable transaction. Instead, it can be the mutually beneficial opportunity you and your contact have been waiting for.

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