5 Strategies to Grow Your Career Through Networking

This is a guest post from Vladimir Gendelman, Founder and CEO, Company Folders.  I think you’ll find his advice ties in well with our overall theme here at Purposeful People of taking responsibility for our growth and development. Enjoy!


No one wants to have the same job for the rest of their lives with no room for advancement. That would be a pretty dull life. The hope is to learn and grow with each task and move on to bigger and better jobs. The same skills that help you grow in your career will also help you grow as a person.

An important key to career development is networking. People who have been where you are (or are in a place that you one day hope to be) can serve as mentors to guide you. In addition, networking can help you build connections that come in handy when you are seeking a new position or need a recommendation. However, depending on your personality, networking can be difficult or intimidating. Here are five tips to help you get started and advance your career to where you want to be.

1. Join a Business Association

One of the great things about business associations is all of the members share the same common interest you do, so it’s a great icebreaker for meeting new people in your field. Some associations and organizations are specific to your location or niche, while others are more general. There are also some organizations exclusively for women or minorities.

There can be fees associated with joining, so be sure to take that into consideration when researching which organizations are right for you. Other things to consider are the size of the group’s membership and other benefits included, such as group discounts, training/education and political advocacy.

Joining a business association or organization is ideal for boosting your career development because it can easily connect you to various people and tools to advance, whether it’s through training or education or mixers with other members. You can use that connection to find a mentor or establish other professional relationships.

2. Go Online

Connect online to all of those people you met through the business association and attending conferences to continue the great conversations you started. Join group pages related to your niche on social media as well as your business association’s page. Email them letting them know it was great to meet them and set up a time to meet for coffee or lunch. Send requests on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to connect with the people you met at those conferences.

To that end, make sure your social media profiles give an accurate picture of who you are professionally and personally. Pictures from an event where you might have had a little too much to drink should be left on your phone and not on your social media. Include samples of your work or links to your website.

3. Improve Interpersonal Skills

Just like public speaking is a good skill to have for career development, so are great interpersonal skills. A major part of networking is building strong relationships. That’s where interpersonal skills come in.

Work on being an active listener, and make sure you work well in groups. Be mindful of your body language, and don’t talk over people. Don’t forget basic skills such as a firm handshake and looking people in the eyes when speaking to show your confidence.

Developing a great connection is about what you bring to the relationship more than what the other person can do for you. People want to work with authentic and genuine people, and if you’re only there to find out what’s in it for you, they’ll know. Have a positive attitude, and leave the complaining for close friends and family.

4. Attend a Conference

Conferences are an excellent place to find important people in your industry, as they are typically presenters or keynote speakers. It’s a great way to meet influencers in your field and find a mentor. It’s also a great way to stay updated on the latest trends in your industry, which is a must to boost career development.

Another great way to meet people at conferences is to be a speaker or presenter. There’s no way you can attend all of the presentations at the conference, so why not get the people to come to you? It also builds your credibility. Give the audience custom branded binders with information about you and your brand, as well as extra blank pages for note taking.

Having good public speaking skills is a great characteristic to have for any job, so guest speaking at conferences and events will improve your career development. Be sure to practice your speeches so that you will be able to speak with confidence. Treat your presentation as a conversation, and don’t read off of slides. Record your speaking engagements and post them to your website and social media to expand your reach and grow your brand.

5. Follow Up

Making all of these great contacts won’t do you any good if you don’t follow up. Send an email referencing your previous conversation or sharing an interesting article related to your industry. Be sure to follow up in a timely manner so the contacts don’t have time to forget you. After all, he or she probably met just as many people as you did.

If you want this person to be your mentor, be sure to mention that so they can let you know if they have the time to commit to that type of relationship. If this person is in a position that you hope to one day be in, ask if you can shadow him or her for a day to make sure it’s something in which you are interested. Be sure to send a thank you card, too.

Summary

Being happy in your career and its path can have a huge impact on your overall life. People who feel like they have a purpose and their work is meaningful ultimately produce a positive outcome. You don’t want to feel like you are stuck in a rut. That’s why it’s important to set career goals and have a plan to reach those goals.

Networking is a great strategy for professional growth. Like anything else, people are a valuable resource. It often doesn’t cost anything but time to develop a great relationship. If done right, networking can lead to your next new job or promotion as well as a great way to learn and grow within your industry. It can be overwhelming, but hopefully, with these five tips, you have a good starting point.

The secret to moving from success to influence

You may be successful, a high-performer even, consistently hitting goals, meeting deadlines and over-performing on “the numbers”.  But are you actually lacking in true influence and significance?

In a previous article, I told the story of the highly competent CFO who was isolated and mistrusted because he was so difficult to get along with, until he dismantled his wall of self-preservation.  I explained how self-preservation makes us step away from genuine relationship and stay at the transactional level.   It’s when we feel we have something to prove, something to lose or something to hide.

Schooled in the transactional

But as I reflected on my own life and career, I’ve come to realise how I was schooled in the transactional. Continue reading

#1 barrier to impact & influence

As I’ve been coming up to speed with the amazing GiANT worldwide leadership consulting organisation, they have helped shine a light on perhaps the biggest barrier that holds us all back from greater influence and impact.

I asked my newsletter readers what they thought the #1 barrier to their own impact was, and got a variety of answers, all of which were helpful: for example, worrying too much about what other people think about you; lack of self-belief or confidence; lack of passion.

But let me get to the deeper barrier to influence by telling a true story.

A friend was consulting at a large organisation.  The CFO was an amazingly competent individual who had saved the company millions over the years.   However, he was extraordinarily difficult to get along with; his peers were struggling to work with him, and every time anyone dared confront him with a reality-check on his impact on other people, he simply threatened to leave .

So the guy was competent, but also an arrogant idiot…

Continue reading

Suzi McAlpine: Why collaborative leadership matters

A few weeks ago I spoke to Suzi McAlpine, a leadership development specialist based in New Zealand who recently contributed to our mega-roundup post of 60 personal effectiveness tips.

Before her current focus as business owner and executive coach, Suzi has been an international executive search consultant and practice leader.

In this discussion we tackle the topic of collaborative leadership, which is what Suzi believes to be the missing component in much of modern leadership approaches.

Continue reading

Why delegation isn’t working, and what to do about it

After my last article on why productivity won’t solve your problems, a reader emailed me with a suggestion:

“Excellent post. How about extending it to cover a third option – not loss or delay, but hand-over to another network. Internet peering and all that.”

To put it differently:

“How about delegating or outsourcing work as a way of dealing with the overwhelm of managing infinity?”

Delegation vs. Infinity.  Infinity wins. But….

Everyone knows delegation is a good idea, but hard and frustrating to put into practice.  So often we feel it would be better and quicker to do the darn thing ourselves!   So we find it hard to decide to delegate, and find it harder to put it into practice.

But even more than that, we find delegation never actually frees us up in the way that we’d hoped.

You delegate something but your day is as hectic as ever.

What happened there? Continue reading

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Productivity doesn’t solve your problem

This week as I was discussing productivity with some Rocket Results students it struck me that the reason why productivity feels so important, and is so difficult, is that we are all operating in a totally new productivity environment.

We are managing infinity.

As you know, only a few years ago things were very different:

  • People had to be physically present to make requests or place demands upon us. Failing that, they had to spend the energy to compose and post a memo or letter and wait for a reply; or they had to phone us, which involved spending both money (calls weren’t cheap) and time (playing phone tag to catch us).
  • Our immediate access to information was limited to the books and the people around us.  Visiting a library was a deliberate step.

And now, of course, everything is infinite: Continue reading

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What is holding you back?

Today my friends I want to ask you a simple but profound question.

What is holding you back?

You’re doing what you do.  You’re getting the results you’re getting.  And a part of you longs for a deeper, more satisfying path.  So what is it that is holding you back?

I’ve been thinking about these questions as my Rocket Results students have been wrestling with these pretty deep questions and getting great answers.  And I observe four major forces that can often hold us back. Continue reading

The Forgotten Secret of High Performance

How can you up-level your results? The secret might not be what you think.

You may have read books on high-performance, taken courses on strategy, downloaded productivity apps, bought multiple courses and information products - and still didn't see the personal effectiveness and business growth you’d hoped for.

You may have had meetings and off-sites, set plans and strategies or agreed new initiatives, and yet realise months later that you are still operating pretty much business-as-usual.

Understanding why this happens is going to be essential if you want to make faster progress in the future than you have up until now.

Continue reading

Feeling stuck? Try the ‘Spice Girl’ strategy

This week I was speaking to a close friend about her work situation. There were some tough things going on. Her manager is controlling-yet-distracted, her colleagues are fearfully hoarding information and being uncollaborative; her career in her current firm seems buffeted by forces somewhat beyond her control.

She asked for my advice on what to do. I offered some possibilities, yet each time I raised an idea my friend explained a whole set of other difficulties and complicating factors.

It felt like the conversation was like a puppy with a ball of wool - going in circles and getting progressively more knotted and complicated.

Time to ask the question to slice through all of that.

Continue reading

The secret lever for achieving your ambitions

This post is part of a series on personal effectiveness and impact. You might like to review the previous articles:

 The most important lever

In this post we are going to discuss the most important lever you have in attaining your dreams and goals without overwhelm and burn-out. But it’s a topic that gets a lot of bad press. For example:

Just yesterday (I kid you not) I was handed a piece of paper.

“It’s the new strategy. What do you think?”

What did I think? Well, let me just say this. If I’d had a long blonde wig and my electric guitar I would have jumped on the desk and treated my friend to an impromptu rendition of that Bon Jovi classic, slightly modified:

“Shot through the heart and you’re to blame;

Darlin’ you give strategy a bad name!” Continue reading

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