Growing Your Network One-By-One

NetworkingAs a young child, I learned the importance and value of teamwork through playing team sports: basketball, softball, and volleyball. I quickly began to appreciate individual strengths, weaknesses, and the amazing energy created among team members as we worked together towards a common goal.

Later as I began my career as an administrative professional, I remembered the energy and excitement that was created playing team sports. It was the team approach I chose to use as a model to create and establish my own professional network to enhance my career.

Establishing a team or a professional network takes time and energy. However, it is well worth it! Why? Administrative professionals who have broad professional networks will have more resources available to not only benefit them personally but most importantly their employer. Remember…administrative professionals are supposed to make magic happen within minutes, if not seconds.

Over the years I have invested the time and resources to create a network filled with business partners, vendors in different industries, and administrative professionals in various businesses (Fortune 500 companies, non-profit, education, financial institutions, technology, and many more). These relationships have led to referring individuals to fill Board of Director vacancies, participating in community service projects, receiving job leads to share with others, creating new business opportunities, increasing sales, and much more.

How do you build a network? Networks are built and sustained over a period of time. Through work experiences, training and education, conferences, networking events, and joining professional organizations, I have built an amazing network and you can, too. The good news is social media has made it easy for this network created mostly from face-to-face interaction to survive and thrive by staying connected online.

As an administrative professional, it is important to get and stay connected to everyone and I mean just about everyone! Each person we connect with has different talents, resources, and skillsets. Your best asset will not be Google, the YellowPages, or Facebook. Your greatest asset will be the people in your network. Nurture the relationships that you build and don’t let them go.

Here are some suggestions for expanding your professional network:

• Join and be active in professional associations and special interest groups
• Volunteer time to community service
• Attend social functions, approach people, and introduce yourself
• Attend professional development seminars and professional association conferences
• Join online groups and social networking sites

You have probably heard the old saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Yes, it’s important to know the what, but don’t think for a moment that the “who” doesn’t play a significant role in your career success.

Make it a goal this week to get out there and meet someone new, but most importantly work to sustain that new relationship over a period of time.