Networking is really about enhancing your people skills. It’s every human interaction from your smile in the elevator to your voicemail message. Stop worrying about how to “work a room” and insert more empathy into how you connect with colleagues every day. Pick up a copy of Gretchen Rubin’s latest book “The Four Tendencies” to learn how to understand yourself better — and how to improve your interactions with those around you.
Network your expertise! Volunteer to mentor. Join an industry committee. Contribute to a company blog. 70% of career opportunities are attributed to word-of-mouth referrals. To advance your career, it’s not simply who you know or what you know but who knows what you know. Now is the time to make a dent in the world with your unique ideas. Pick up Nilofer Merchant’s The Power of Onlyness and get inspired to reach for new opportunities.
Deepen your network — especially with women. Deep networks are close friends, mentors, and advisors who provide timely feedback, essential guidance, and regular advice. And research shows that women create opportunities for other women. Check out networks empowering women such as everywoman,Dreamers & Doers and Levo League.
Avoid “group think”. Make sure your network is broad, not simply deep. Proactively connect with people outside your professional field, social circle, age demographic, and geographic location, otherwise you risk limiting your opportunities (and perspectives) to the boundaries of your existing networks. Learn a new skill — Lynda.com offers over 6000 online courses — or put your current expertise to work in a new community.
Get to know your colleagues. Network up the corporate ladder, down it, and across it. Be respectful of people in your place of work — whether it is the security guard who swipes you in or the most senior executive. Work is a team activity and internal networks are powerful tools for getting your job done. Not working in a corporate setting? This “getting to know other people in the work environment” applies equally to freelancers or those working in a co-working space or other shared work environment. Check out Freelance Friday, a monthly meetup for those making their own work magic happen in the new economy.