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Along with the connections you have inside your company you have many different places where you can build connections outside as well. Any place where people gather to connect with each other are referred to as a network. While you want to value every human connection you make, not all networks are created equal. You will want to make some conscious decisions about the networks you participate in, let us explore your options. The most obvious network is your friends and family.
This usually does not take much effort on your part to cultivate given that you are already friends with them because there usually is already a strong connection, professional opportunities are going to naturally arise, take care of this network by being a caring friend and family member. Now what about associations? Typically these are specific to your industry such as an association of insurance professionals or a marketing Association.
These groups provide regular opportunities for you to gather with people in your field and learn more about your industry, there are also excellent opportunities for networking. Attend associations with the intention of reaching outside of your comfort zone, get to know a few people and practice using the four principles of connection. Trade shows and conferences are also excellent opportunities to connect with people outside of your local geographic region and outside of your industry.
I suggest you try to build five new professional friendships, each time you attend one of these events. You'll want to do more than simply collect business cards, so I will give you some of the tools for using those cards, when we discuss recurring connections and social media. Do not overlook charitable causes and organizations as a way to build connections. These causes need your help and you likely have a contribution you can make to help them succeed.
They also provide excellent opportunities for you to build professional connections. Successful people are often giving service-oriented people. So, getting involved with a charitable cause gives you the opportunity to connect with other successful people. Working together for a common cause will help you both quickly find common ground to connect. Finally, there are business networking groups that specifically facilitate professional connections in these groups.
Everyone in the room wants to build connections and get referrals for their business. So it is often a dynamic environment. These groups can be fantastic opportunities to build lots of professional connections very quickly, but you may find people who do not have an attitude of giving first and their sole purpose is to get new business. However, no matter what the people around you are doing, give first, you may see their attitudes and actions shift to follow your example and become more about helping others in turn.
How do you decide which kinds of networking groups you should join? The answer is really up to you, but you will want to limit your choices it's better to be involved regularly in one or two groups than to be sporadically involved in many groups. If you can focus and be regularly involved in just a couple of groups you will build stronger, deeper professional connections. Also, choose groups where you feel it's easier to build connections, look for groups that provide opportunities for conversations with other people and that relate to your ongoing career.
Whichever networking groups you choose you can always use the four principles of building connections, giving first using their name, focusing on the person and maintaining contact. Use these principles consistently and you will find networking groups to be valuable resources in building connections.
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