Professional networks are a fact of life in today’s world. No longer can you simply do your job and hope for the best. While the adage “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is entirely too cynical for these purposes, there is a nugget of truth. Having relationships with a variety of people who respect your professionalism is vital to advancing within your current career track or obtaining a new career outside your current field.
Perhaps you have a goal to move to another area of the country. In this case, networks are extremely beneficial. Having people ready and willing to vouch for your professionalism can be a major step up when attempting to build a life in a new area. That being said, it is incumbent upon you to make sure this individual’s recommendation is not in vain.
So how do you build a nationwide network? It seems awfully difficult, but the reality is that having a nationwide network is far simpler than you could have imagined.
Here are three ways to build your nationwide network:
- Attending Conventions. Yeah, the hassle of flying and staying in hotels is annoying. Think of it this way. When are you EVER going to have a chance to have a gathering of people within your profession under one roof. Often, because these conventions are central to your company’s profits, they’re willing to help you with the cost of attending. Take the time to go, work a booth and meet people. You’ll find other attendees are there to do the same thing.
- Use Off Time to Network. The best part of networking is that you make the networking schedule. If you’re at a convention, the best time to really get to know people is when they’re not shilling their wares. Get a drink at the bar or have dinner. Your guest’s guard will be down and you’ll get to know them. These types of encounters help make you a person, and not just “that guy from that company in that state.”
- The Internet is Your Friend. Nearly every profession has some sort of forum where people from everywhere post discussions. Discussions on the internet get a bad rap, but when you’re on a message board for your particular profession, chances are you’re there to learn something or shoot the breeze with like-minded people. Get to know people from various places. When you meet them, you’ll be inclined to refer to them by their handle, and that’s (somewhat) okay. Ultimately, that’s a great way to build your network and get respect without ever leaving your house!
Networking is fairly simple when you break it down. Use these techniques to expand your network from sea to shining sea. Once you do that, you never know what opportunities await.