We’ve all heard that the keys to getting that great job, that next promotion or the lead for a special project are: doing a great job, delivering business results, being a team player and having a great mentor or sponsor. You rarely hear anyone talking about building both your internal and external networks.
While building a network takes time and effort, it may be one of the most rewarding things that you can do to promote yourself and your career. The days of keeping your head down and working hard are going to the wayside. Today, it’s about building meaningful relationships with the key people and understanding the levels of influence within your organization.
Nine years ago, I worked for one of the big four consulting companies. I traveled five days of the week and was only home on the weekends. When I was home, I was taking care of tasks to keep my household running. Then I got a job at a major energy company and realized that I did not have a network. Not only did I not know anyone in the industry, but I also had no influential coach or mentor. That’s when one of my consulting managers told me about an organization called the Women’s Energy Network (WEN). WEN is an international association for women professionals that provides networking opportunities for women in the energy industry and fosters career and leadership development. I was skeptical at first, but I went ahead and joined anyway. The many connections that I have made as a member of WEN have changed my life.
These connections lead me to positions on the WEN board and as the organization’s President in 2011. Because of this, I’ve been able to network and be mentored by some of the most influential women in the energy industry. These relationships have built my leadership capabilities and have brought fresh new innovative ideas into my company.
Knowing how much I’ve gained from the connections that I made, I now make it a point to connect people with others who can help them. I’ve gone from networking newbie to connector.
How can you build your network? Below are a few tips that can help you get started
- Join an organization like WEN or a group that is relevant to your goals and capabilities. Networking organizations give you the opportunity to meet people at different levels of their careers and tap into their expertise.
- Know your organization. Know the rules of the game. Be aware of your organization and understand who influences who. Identify who you need to build relationships with and how you build those relationships.
- Be genuine and authentic. Authenticity defines your personal integrity, transparency and humility. Being authentic gives you a sense of personal purpose and brings meaning to everything that you do.
- Network with a purpose. If you are attending a networking event, know why you are there and what you want to achieve. Make two goals and focus on achieving those.
- Be a connector. Are you a connector? Do you know a connector? If not, go ahead and break your rules! Reach out, make a connection and see how building your network can change your life.
Are you a connector? Do you know a connector? If not, go ahead and break your rules! Reach out, make a connection and see how building your network can change your life.