Building a Reliable and Effective Network
By Sophia Muirhead| Published July 19, 2023
One of the most valuable tools we have in the workplace is the network of professional connections we create. Networks don’t have to be as formal as requiring paperwork or attendance. Your network can be your professional peers or casual friends, physical meetings or digital dialogues, formal or informal. There is no set of rules that your network must abide by – the only thing it needs to do is work best for you!
Here are four tips to build a reliable and effective network that works best for you:
- Prepare a balanced introduction for yourself. Preparing a conversational introduction can help set the conversation up for successful networking. While it can be easy to rely on your job title and tenure in introductions, these two alone can become monotonous and might not accurately capture the scope of your skillset. Some other information to include in your introduction could be projects you are currently working on, what you are passionate about, or past accomplishments in your career. Practicing your introduction and knowing how to present yourself can help alleviate the pressure of meeting new people.
- Seek out a diverse network: diversity of peers means diversity of knowledge! Have you heard the saying, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room”? The same applies to your network! Your network should be made up of many different schools of thought. Some networking connections to seek out can be those in the same position as you, those with positions one or more levels above yourself, those who attended the same schools as you, those who interact with your department and know the scope of your responsibilities, and many more!
- Flaunt your digital profile but remember your digital footprint. The modern era has blended the line between physical and digital networks. Platforms such as LinkedIn, TikTok, and Facebook make it easy to establish connections with professionals all around the world. These are great digital spots to display the things that make you unique! However, keep in mind that anything you put online stays online, and anything you post can be viewed far beyond your network and can create impressions of yourself beyond your control. Some professionals keep a public profile for their professional network and a private profile for their personal network, but this method does not guarantee the privacy of your posts. As such, ensure your digital footprint is in line with your values and post with nuance in mind.
- Know what you have to offer and be willing to share! Lastly, know your own personal networking worth as a mentor. As you progress in your career, and younger generations enter the workforce, you may find yourself with the unique opportunity to exhibit your knowledge and establish yourself as a resource to these new professionals. One of the best ways to truly test your expertise is to teach it to another, and young professionals are always looking to expand their skill set. These networking opportunities are particularly important as you are guiding the next generation of leaders who will one day take on the legacy you have built.
We have a phenomenal network of professionals here at First Community Bank! Here are some more tips from folks that I consider to be masters of networking from my own personal network:
- What is your go to icebreaker? “With every introduction, I want to start by finding the connections between us. This means getting to know the person in front of me as best as I can! Even simple questions, such as, ‘Where you are from, what’s your career background,’ can establish a foundation that you can build upon for years to come.”
- What does “networking” mean to you? “Networking is building trust and friendship with the intention of helping each other succeed. I want to be a cheerleader for those in my network, and I know that they are also cheering me on as well! I would recommend looking for your core group of people who have the same goals as you and want you to succeed.
- How have you relied on your network over the years? “My network has been an excellent resource to help find the best solutions for our customers banking and business needs. Sometimes the dots between your network can connect in unexpected ways, which is why it’s so important to understand the different skillsets available. Remember: everyone is trying to succeed, and your network makes it possible to reach success together!
- What is your go to icebreaker? “As the SVP Business Development Officer, most of my networking is done with potential customers and businesses interested in working with First Community Bank. When building these relationships, I want to find out: “What have you accomplished so far? What are you working on currently? Where do you want to go moving forward – and most importantly, how can I help you achieve those goals?” The conversation should really flow from there!”
- What does “networking” mean to you? “Creating, building, and maintaining relationships.”
- How have you relied on your network over the years? “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know!’ Your network can bring about opportunities, along with opening doors that wouldn’t have been available without the connections you’ve made!”
- What is your go-to icebreaker? “Introductions are always the best place to start, and then I ask questions to learn about the common ground between us. The key is to focus on actively listening to their answers and experiences. Be genuinely curious. A common mistake is listening to reply, I want to listen to learn.”
- What does “networking” mean to you? “Networking is developing connections with those of similar interests and backgrounds to aid you, should you need it.”
- How have you relied on your network over the years? “My network has always been a reliable tool when starting a new project, or if I have a difficult problem at hand. I know I can reach out to see how my peers have done in similar situations. A valuable question to ask is, ‘How would you have done it differently?’ Your network can help you avoid the pitfalls they have come across in their own careers.”