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Networking is something that everyone should do, whether you have a job or are looking for a job. It is also something that you can do no matter what field you are in – including administrative professionals. The bottom line of business is that people do business with those they trust. The same applies to hiring – people tend to hire others that they feel they “know”. So, the thing you need to ask yourself is if you are developing relationships that build trust.
Networking is a win-win situation
When you network, make sure there is lots of give and take, but put the emphasis on the GIVE. Networking isn’t about selling. Instead, think of it as opportunities to share resources, information, and ideas. These sharing activities will help you establish trust.
7 Steps to a Good Networking Plan
- Explore different groups. Most groups will allow you to come to a few events or meetings and this will give you a chance to see if you are a good fit. When you go to a group for the first time, ask people what they like about the group. Find out what the values and ethics of the group are. You will soon learn about the goals of the group, too, if you ask the right questions
- Join one or two groups. Go to all of the meetings if you can because building relationships takes time. Get to know people and let others get to know you. Over time, you will be able to build trust in these new relationships.
- Get involved. Volunteer to be on committees, to speak to the group about your area of expertise, or to help out. By being on teams you will have many opportunities to build connections and get to know people better. People will be more likely to seek you out so you will not need to work as hard to become visible.
- Keep in touch. Remember that most groups only meet once a month and that can make it difficult to build real relationships. Ask for business cards or email addresses and drop them a line when you have something new and interesting to share or have something going on that you think would interest them. Send them invitations to other events.
- Don’t be afraid to refer others. When you know of a job opening that you are not applying to but suits someone in your group, let them know. Introduce them to the person in charge of hiring if you can. Share information and others will start to share information with you.
- Focus on Quality. If you are constantly sending emails with information that is not relevant to the people you are sending it to, they will eventually start deleting your emails without even opening them. Make sure that the information you are sharing has value. That means no group emails – only send the email to the people that will find value in it. That way you will develop valuable contacts and it is more important to have 5 good contacts than 50 contacts that have no clue who you are.
- Be patient and keep working at it. Good networking habits takes time and building a good network takes patience. Don’t expect it to happen overnight. Enjoy yourself and focus on being useful to others. In time, you will have a great network of business acquaintances that can be invaluable in your future.