Building Your Networking System

Networking takes time and effort but the rewards can be huge.

A good networking system should include some combination of the following:

Face to face meetings. These meetings are usually one-on-one opportunities to get to know a person better or to discuss a particular subject area. I try to hold at least three of these a month.

Professional meetings and associations. To further your knowledge within your field, it’s helpful to get involved with groups that focus on your subject matter. I belong to the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Professional Communicators and the Public Relations Society of America. Monthly and yearly meetings provide me with opportunities to enhance my skills, and the networking provides me opportunities to learn about others and their responsibilities.

Conferences. These are a great way to learn new skills and, at the same time, meet with others who face similar challenges. At a recent conference I attended, I spoke with several about pitch ideas. The advice was invaluable.

Networking clubs. These groups are a chance to meet individuals from a variety of professions. I don’t belong to one, but I often attend a women’s networking group as a guest. I usually gain some insights into other areas. One time, I met an individual who ran a catering company. A few months later at work I had to organize a day-long meeting that required lunch. I called the individual I had met, and the lunch was a success.

Community involvement. I volunteer with my local library. Our shared love of books brings us together, but the individuals come from all professions. I found my tax preparer through the group. I’ve also met teachers, health care professionals and writers.

LinkedIn. LinkedIn enables you to build a strong online presence, build your credibility and network. It’s also easily searchable. When I’m hiring individuals, I always review their profiles. When one of the professional groups I was involved in needed a web designer, I posted a notice about it, and I reconnected with a former colleague who now did that work. He’s still managing our website.

In my next post, I’ll share some ways you can enhance your LinkedIn profile.