Taking Advantage of Your Personal Network

I’m not trying to toot my own horn or anything, but I have some pretty incredible friends.

There’s the branding and marketing expert, Maya J. There’s Brooke, the genius of knowing how to get guaranteed call backs for job interviews. Barbara has her own public relations company. Bianca has her own nail business. The crazy thing is that they’re not even half the amount of brilliant people that I have in my personal network.

Last week I called up one of my friends about 5 different times. I picked her brain about how to perfect a document I was working on. This weekend I helped the same friend with a website. We traded our skills and talents. We learned from each other.

I know we each have our own professional network, but a lot of times we forget to take a good hard look at what our own personal networks have to offer us. So ask yourself: Who are the people in your personal life you’d like to like to learn from? 

Never JUST Network!

Networking is a strategy. Treat it like one.

Introducing yourself and exchanging business cards won’t always give you the desired outcome that you’re looking for. It’s important to establish your plan of networking before attending  an event. Never just assume networking for every event is the same.

I love networking; so many opportunities come out of meeting new people! Anytime I’m getting ready to head to an event that I know has the opportunity for some great networking, I always keep three things in mind:

1. Always network with a purpose.

What’s your reason for wanting to network? Is it that you’re hoping for a job offer? Maybe an internship offer? Did you just move into a new area and are looking for things to do and people to hang out with? Are you looking for people in your field of interest to perhaps give you recommendations one day? Once you determine the purpose of your networking you’ll be able to craft a networking plan to help you achieve your goal.

2. Research THEN network.

What type of event is it that you’re going to? Who’s going to be there? What type of career do the people attending have? Is the topic of discussion something you have experience or an interest in? Once you know background information about the event and the people who are attending you’ll be able to prescript conversation topics, look up related current events, bring hard copy information, and know in advance what information you want to share.

3. Make sure your net-worth is actually worth networking.

There’s so much more to networking than who you know and who knows you. It’s more important what people know about you. From past experiences, I refuse to vouch for people unless I know about their work ethics, and I know a lot people who follow the same guideline. It’s great if a lot of people know you, but if the information they know about you isn’t good it’s irrelevant. Always work hard. Don’t just work hard when you think it benefits you. Whether it be a job, internship, school organization, committee, or even your online presence, make sure the information that you’re outputting about yourself is worth knowing.

The next time you know of a networking opportunity approaching, try these three tips. They have definitely come in handy for me!