3 Ways to Nurture Your Network

Nurture Your Network

If you’re contemplating or in a job search, ask yourself if your network needs some nurturing. “You have to make friends before you need friends,” is an old saying. Do you have lots of acquaintances and friends of friends whom you have not reached out to in a long time – even years? Have you ignored emails and LinkedIn messages from distance connections because you were “too busy” with your life?

You may need to nurture, restore and expand your network before you start asking for job-search help. If you’re not in an urgent situation, then you might want to spend significant energy on this. If you think you might be in the market six months from now, this it the time to start nurturing folks.

First, build a list of people who could be particularly useful in your search, and find a reason to contact each and every one of them before you ask for help. Former employers and colleagues, past professors, customers, vendors, and more. People know other people, and this is key. Here are some ways to do it.

Enhance your online profile.

First, raise your profile on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or any industry news feeds (with comment features) to which you subscribe. Make comments on blogs, articles, and news posts. Join groups where real-world conversations are happening on social media. LinkedIn groups are a great example. And most Q&A on social media is easy to jump into. Typically the poster wants different perspectives, or he /she truly doesn’t know something and is seeking an answer.

First, flesh out prompt, mindful and useful answers to these queries. Then, when you post your own question, you will have gained credibility as a legitimate contributor, and folks will likely reach back with answers in kind.

Practice networking, connecting, interviewing, and present yourself on Eventbrite.com and Meetup.com. These enable thought leaders and others to show off their knowledge and propel communications with like-minded professionals. They allow you to organize real-world virtual events. At a Meetup event, it’s easy to talk shop and learn from others. You’re able to accomplish three things:

  • Hone your interview skills by discussing what you know and do best.
  • Connect with people in your field or industry, and gain insider news and tips.
  • Learn about different industry trends so you can talk about them intelligently in later interviews.

Commenting on blogs or answering queries is often enhanced by looking up online references to share links to the subject. It takes only a few minutes.

Get people to recommend you on LinkedIn. Savvy recruiters and hiring authorities will not be overly influenced by giving recommendations on LinkedIn necessarily, but it does reflect that you have those who think highly of you. If you can get direct bosses to recommend you, that will carry weight. Every time you post a recommendation, all your contacts are notified of the update.

Also, when you update your own profile in any way on LinkedIn and other social sites, all your contacts get a notification that you have done so. This alone puts your name on their radar. And write if you can. Write articles, start a blog of your own, and make use of LinkedIn’s ability to post these. The following can be large. Troll for industry-related blogs and add your comments to give you to build your professional online identity.

You can also put recommendations lists on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. If you’re an expert in website design, event planning, sales, etc., build some thoughtful lists of recommended readings for www.amazon.com and www.barnesandboble.com. Make sure you use your real name, so that you’ll become identified as an expert and reviewer.

Use YouTube to come across as an expert.

Create a how-to video that relates to your professional expertise. Stick to business and keep it brief. Three minutes on “Six tips on closing a sale” or two minutes on “Managing an office more effectively” can establish you as an expert.

This approach has several benefits. It helps you prepare for interview. It gives you a positive, professional identity if someone does an Internet search on or name. Professionals will come across your video, so it has passive advantages. You can also direct people to the video, as an active job-search method. Lastly, it shows that you are able to record and upload a video. Everyone in the job market should have some YouTube vignettes that showcase his or her best skills and talents in a quick, compact platform. If your interests change down the line, you can remove old versions and post new ones. Keep your name out there with fresh content!

Forward relevant information.

Think about friends and acquaintances regarding their avocations, interests and passions. Do you have a friend who is an avid New York Yankees fan? Someone who collects stamps? Who reads everything on Abraham Lincoln they can get? Someone who seems to live on the golf course? Then forward them articles you come across that have to do with their interests. “Bob, I saw this article about your essential oils having new uses. Weren’t you into that?”

Try snail mailing folks, because it’s rare to get anything meaningful that way. Most people are tickled to get newspaper clippings or magazines of interest. Revive the tradition of sending holiday cards to people – Fourth of July to Thanksgiving. “Hey, Patty. Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas! I couldn’t remember which you observed … so I sent you both! Your long-lost friend, Barb.”

Remember, you have to make friends before you need friends! To start, reach back 90 days or more for any emails from remote acquaintances that you ignored or lost track of. “Hey, I’m sorry! I was just reviewing my emails and noticed that yours got buried in the masses.  Please forgive this delay, but here’s what I think about what you asked/said …”

You have to make friends before you need friends, so be a good friend. Go out to coffee and lunch with people inside and outside of your organization. Meet colleagues for drinks after work, even if you’d rather go straight to the gym. Volunteer. Collect business cards from people you meet, however briefly. Expand your stomping grounds beyond your workplace. If you spend qite a bit of time telecommuting, change it up. Go to the office more. Visit client sites. Get out and make the rounds to association, community, school, or business events.

Show up! If you do this before you ask people for advice, ideas, leads, and referrals, you’re going to get more advice, leads, and referrals!!

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