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How to use Professional Networking Effectively

by | Mar 14, 2022 | Blog

Are you looking to build relationships with other business professionals in your area? Professional networking can be a great way to expand your circle of contacts, learn from others in your industry, and find potential referral partners. This blog post will discuss tips to help develop your professional network and popular networking groups and organizations. Let’s get started!

What is professional networking?

Professional networking is when you build relationships with other professionals in your career field and other related fields. Networking efforts allow you to foster relationships with others mutually beneficial to your careers and those in your network.

Why is professional networking important?

Networking professionally is a process by which you expand your knowledge and professional capabilities by leveraging relationships with other professionals. The keyword is “relationships.” Networking also provides a forum for a new job or forward career aspirations.

What are the types of professional networks?

A professional network is a group of people who have connected for career or business-related reasons. Members, who are called contacts or connections, can share information that includes, but is not limited to, job leads. Business experts typically define three types of professional networks: operational, personal, and strategic. All three work together, but they function differently and serve different purposes.

Operational network

Operational networks include direct subordinates, superiors, people with the power to block or support a project, and critical outsiders such as suppliers, distributors, and customers.

Personal network

Personal networks are venues that you may frequent regularly, but not formal networking organizations. For example, health clubs, family members, former classmates, golf courses, airplanes, weddings, book clubs, cocktail parties, and children’s sports are all part of your personal network.

Strategic network

A strategic network can be defined as coordinated cooperation between several legally and formally independent enterprises that promote long-term strategic cooperation. For example, a non-profit organization leader might network to build relationships with entertainers who would then be willing to perform pro bono at a fundraising event.

What are professional relationships?

Professional relationships are interpersonal connections between two or more people in a place of business. Professional contacts are usually more formal than relationships that exist outside of work. These expectations help keep personal issues and situations from interfering with business operations.

What is relationship networking?

Relationship networking is about building connections and finding mutual benefits for both parties. Share information, and help others in your network grow their businesses. Relationship networking and partnerships overlap in many ways, leading to business opportunities.

What is relationship building, and why is it important?

Relationship-building skills combine soft skills that a person applies to connect with others and form positive relationships or professional contacts. In the workplace, relationship-building skills are essential for getting along with coworkers, contributing to a team, and building an understanding between yourself and others.

Why are relationships at work important?

Coworkers who have positive relationships are more likely to perform well when working together on a project. Having teammates you respect can motivate you to perform to the best of your abilities, and good communication with them can help all of you perform various tasks more efficiently.

What are strong professional relationship-building skills?

To form successful and strong work connections, you should possess practical interpersonal skills. For instance, understanding another person’s perspective, showing respect when you feel it’s unwarranted, or showing compassion for your team can all be attributed to developing interpersonal skills.

What are professional networking tips?

Make Genuine Friends

When people hear the phrase “professional networking,” they often think of a cold, calculating individual who is only interested in what others can do for them. However, the best way to network and form relationships with others in your field is by being genuine and friendly. Talk to your colleagues about their interests outside of work, and be interested in their lives. Remember people’s names and send them birthday wishes or congratulations on special occasions. Being kind and considerate will form lasting relationships with the people you meet through your professional network.

Foster meaningful relationships

Networking is essential, but don’t forget to foster meaningful relationships. Don’t be all about business when you meet people. Instead, talk to them about their interests outside of work, and be interested in their lives. Remember people’s names and send them birthday wishes or congratulations on special occasions. Being kind and considerate will form lasting relationships with the people you meet through your professional networks.

Have a good vibe about yourself

Differentiate yourself from other professionals by having a good vibe about yourself. Be upbeat and cheerful, yet professional. When you meet people, be sure to make a good impression by being different from the other stiff, boring professionals they’ve met. Let your personality shine through, and people will appreciate your warm demeanor and positive attitude.

Make conversations about them.

When you’re networking, make conversations about your colleagues, not yourself. People love talking about themselves, so by asking them questions about their lives and interests, you’re sure to keep the conversation going. Show genuine interest in what they have to say, and be sure to follow up with them later on, to see how they’re doing. By being a good listener and showing interest in others, you’ll form strong relationships with the people you meet through your professional networks.

Know your boundaries

When networking, it’s important to know your boundaries. Never be pushy or aggressive in trying to sell yourself to others. If someone isn’t interested in what you have to offer, be respectful and move on. There are plenty of other people to network with, so don’t waste your time trying to force a connection that isn’t there. Instead, focus on developing relationships with those who seem interested in what you have to say. By being genuine and friendly, you’ll be sure to make a good impression and form strong professional connections.

What are professional networking groups?

The best business networking groups operate as exchanges of business information, ideas, and support. There are many groups online that offer networking services and communities—LinkedIn is an example of a large (social media) networking group or site that can bring professionals together. Examples of seven small business networking groups:

    1. chamber of commerce.
    2. SCORE.
    3. Entrepreneurs’ Organization.
    4. Business Networking International.
    5. Young Entrepreneurs Council.
    6. American Marketing Association.
    7. Rotary Club International.

What is a purely online connection?

A connection that is purely online is a relationship that is formed solely through virtual communication. This could be through social media platforms like LinkedIn, or by communicating through email or other online messaging platforms. Unlike in-person networking, there is no face-to-face interaction, so it can be challenging to build a strong relationship with someone you’ve only met online. Even so, through due diligence in communicating with your online connections, you take the time to get to know them. In that case, you can form meaningful relationships with people from all over the world.

What is a professional organization?

A professional network organization has individual members practicing a profession or occupation. The organization maintains an oversight of the knowledge, skills, conduct, and practice of that profession or trade. Examples of professional associations include:

  • AABB (formerly American Association of Blood Banks)
  • Academy of International Business (AIB)
  • Academy of Management (AOM)
  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
  • Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering (AACE International)

Why is a professional network important?

There’s no denying the power a strong professional network can have over your career success. A professional network will help you develop and improve your skillset and stay on top of the latest trends in your industry and job market. A professional network can also advance your career and give you access to more job opportunities.

The best way to open yourself to business opportunities is through a professional network. It helps you meet prospective clients, get ahead in a competitive job market, and gain better access to career resources. However, keep in mind that you need to have the proper knowledge and skills to build connections successfully.

Professional networking doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s a process by which you can expand your knowledge and capability by leveraging relationships with other professionals. The key is to remember that networking is all about building relationships. When you attend networking events or just chat with colleagues, think about how you can help them first and foremost. That will help build trust and strengthen the relationship. In turn, they may be more likely to help you when you need it. What are some of the ways you’ve found success in professional networking? Let us know in the comments below!

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