We’ve all heard how important it is to take a break and “recharge our batteries.” But have you thought about taking a break to “revup and recharge your career network?” One of things I often hear from leadership candidates and hiring managers alike is “I’ve been so busy that I don’t spend any timenetworking.” The reasons vary from, Idon’t have time, or I just don’t have the energy to do that after work or I’mjust not good at networking, etc. Alwayslots of reasons. Does it take someeffort? Sure, it does – but the rewardscan be great.
Accordingto Fast Company, surveys show that nearly 85% ofemployees have found or obtained their job via external networking. So yes, it is important –a long-term plan is needed because you neverknow when you might need help from a network connection made last month orseveral years ago. And there is more tothis than making a connection and then never being in touch until someone’shelp is needed years later. It really is about building career relationships (anddon’t worry this doesn’t mean everyone in your network needs to be your bestfriend.) If that were to happen it wouldbe a great benefit, but really what you want are good business acquaintances.Let’s discuss the best sources to expand your network.
Social Media – There are a multitude of social media platforms (youknow the popular ones) and these can be great; however, it is important torecognize these are often “broadly and lightly” platforms with a massive numberof people. There is nothing wrong with havinga lot of such connections and you might be able to call on these sources whenlooking for your next role; however, if confidentially is a priority this mightbe a little tough. And let’s face it, alot of people who are connected electronically really don’t know each other atall. But nonetheless, social media is still a great place to expand yournetwork.
Conferences - If you attend conferences for work, especially ifyou attend a particular conference every year, this is a great and naturalplace to grow, expand and nurture your network. Here is a pitfall I see a lot of people fall into: when attending aconference or meeting, don’t spend most of your time talking to and sitting byothers from your company. This is ournatural inclination, but try to spend time meeting new attendees, and reconnectwith others you’ve met before that you found interesting and engaging. Remember to ask questions of each new contactabout their work and life. Listen, get their business card and make a littlenote on the back about them, so you can recall them later and when you reachout. This way you can share something you learned about them or from them evenif it is sometime later. Sometimes whengoing to attend the same conference/meeting you’ve been going to for years – gowith a goal of meeting a certain number of new people over the course of theday or week. That might make it a bitmore interesting.
Local Groups – Join a local trade or industry organization; pick onethat is of interest and you know gets together at least a few times a year ormore. Consider one that might stretchyou a little bit, where you can meet others in your industry, a relatedindustry or a new area you’ve been interested in and want to explorefurther. And it might be good to join agroup where you know very few people or no one – it might feel a little awkwardat first, but after attending a few events/meetings you with begin to recognizeand meet more people. This is a great way to expand your network.
Asyou are meeting and visiting with new colleagues, especially if someone offersa connection or information, be sure and ask if there is anything you can do toassist them. This small gesture is oftena pleasant surprise to new contacts. Andof course, if you say you are going to do something be sure and follow up on it. Networking is a relationship and trustbuilding endeavor. And who knows,through this effort, you might just make some new lifelong great friends alongthe way and make it a whole lot easier on yourself the next time you arelooking for your next career move.
LuMiller is a Principal & SVP of Business Development at Morgan ConsultingResources, a healthcare executive search firm celebrating over 20 successfulyears in business.