“Your network is your net worth” – Porter Gale, author.
Networking in professional workspaces can be a very advantageous skill. It is a great stepping stone to better your job and career. To build these networks however, stepping out of your comfort zone is key. Experimenting with new things, entering new social circles and educating yourself about new interests and topics of conversations, would all be included in the handbook for broadening your networks.
Diversifying your professional networks doesn’t always imply that you are searching for a bigger and better job. With every new link created, a new window of opportunity always has the potential to open up and you might someday be in need of that opportunity. Let’s look at some of the networking DO’s:
- Keep your eyes open for communities and organisations that meet regularly and who share the same interests as you. Involving yourself in these circles will result in social bonds and expansion of professional connections. It’s important to be physically near these organisations so that proximity is a common factor. With the rise of social media and the internet, proximity can even be a virtual concept.
- Ask to spend time with a potential bond, with genuine interest. Networking can only work if you are vested in the process and are willing to go through the process to achieve the end goal.
- Most importantly, if one potential link closes the door on you, do not be discouraged. They may not necessarily have been the right link for you.
Importance of diversifying your network
Having a diverse range of social bonds in your professional life is important as it gives you broadening insights into multiple lines of work that help with formation of your own perspective, creative thinking and critical appreciation. Making well connected bonds across a variety of roles empowers your own networks and makes you a person of interest. Networks across different verticals and hierarchies are of immense valuable. Being an advisor as well as being advised, is a gift that can be received only through networking.
Ways to diversify your professional networks:
1.Identify the strengths and weaknesses in your networks:
A diverse network can cover a lot of ground in terms of human resources. To put your best foot forward with diversifying your connections, the first step you can take is to evaluate your current networks, identify their shortcomings and take steps to expand yourself. If you can figure out specific areas where your network needs strengthening, you can then plan your actions to diversify them more efficiently.
2.Step into murky waters
Don’t be afraid to jump into things that seem new or lie outside your comfort zone. Attend conferences, participate in corporate meetups, sign up for a workshop – you never know who you might bump into, what they have to offer and what kind of relationship you can build from that. Murky waters are unclear for the first 15 minutes until you know what you’re dealing with, and you can begin navigating.
3.Make links between ideas and people
Meeting new people, doing new things will have you feeling inspired, and get you in the right mental space to think forward and build on your networks. Connecting the dots between people, ideas and conversations that seem unconnected will help you build and create further links. Ultimately, in helping others you help yourself.
4.Ask questions out-of-the-box
To make extensive networks across industries, initial conversations must spark interest and set the base for a good bond. Asking questions other than work, such as ‘What do you look forward to in a day?’ or ‘What is important to you when it comes to a workspace?’, can really initiate thought-provoking conversation. In case of a failed bond, both parties will still walk away with something insightful.
Diversifying your network can be extremely beneficial to the growth of your career, and it is something that you can do bit-by-bit, to engineer a better tomorrow for yourself.