I spent 20 years in corporate gigs. While there, I built a network inside my company and the industry, but didn’t make time for other networking events. That was a huge mistake! When I was ready to make a job change, or ultimately start my own business, I did not have the resources and connections to make the transition smoothly.
I wish I had known then what I know now about the importance of networking at every stage of your career. Was reminded of this fact when I read this great post from the Harvard Business Review!
1) Figure out who should be in your network. It shouldn’t be just the people who eat lunch at the same time you do. Ask yourself: Who are the people who can help you? Who knows what’s going on? Who gets around roadblocks? Who are the critical links on the supply or information chain?
2) Stick your neck out. Most people will be more receptive than you think. No one turns down a call from someone who starts the conversation with “I’m new in my job and I’m trying to get to know people who….”
3) Remember that networking is not a one-way street. When you first meet people, reciprocate by sharing information you know will be useful.