5 Ways To Build An Incredibly Strong Personal Network
Your personal network will help get you jobs, and help you get ahead. Cultivate your network using kindness, thoughtfulness, a giving attitude, and these 5 steps.
What Is A Personal Network?
Your personal network is the whole of the group of people you know in your life. The people in your network can be split into three types.
Your inner circle
The first type of person in your personal network is the one within your inner circle, whom you know well and for whom you have trust. This person might be a member of your family or a long-time friend you’ve had since you were young.
People within your inner circle aren’t always your best friends. They’re people you can count on to do the right thing and to lend you a hand, when asked.
Your inner circle is the key to your personal network. The larger your inner circle, the more opportunities you’ll create for yourself. No person has ever succeeded in life without a solid inner circle.
The second type of person in your personal network is the one you’d call a friend; someone who you’ve crossed paths with a lot and about whom you know a little something. This person might be somebody you know from work or somebody you partied with.
It might be somebody with whom you have a social relationship.
People in this second group are people you know something about, but not a lot about. They’re people with whom you would feel comfortable starting a conversation, and could spend time alone without it feeling awkward.
Build better relationships with your friends. They’ll graduate into your inner circle. And, once they’re there, they’ll help you to propel your life forward.
The third type of person in your personal network is the person you’d call an acquaintance. An acquaintance is somebody you’ve met briefly and may or may not remember their face. You may have met them briefly at an event somewhere; or, have been introduced by a common friend.
We rarely know much about our acquaintances and their personal or business lives. You might feel comfortable sending an email or calling an acquaintance, but that might be the limit.
Convert acquaintances into friends, and you’ll create your own luck in your career and your life.
How Does Your Network Help You?
In business and in life, “who you know” matters as much as “what you know.”
And, while it’s important to cultivate and nurture your personal network at all ages, the network you build when you’re young can pay the largest dividends.
It’s never too early to begin, either.
High schoolers can add to their network within their community, outside of their school’s walls. College, trade school, and graduate school students can add to their network by seeking people with similar interests and majors.
Recent graduates can add to their network by joining professional groups and participating in special interest activities such as running groups, cooking events, and intramural sports.
As your personal network grows, your opportunities for success increase.
Consider: when you want to change jobs someday, before you hit the job boards, it will be your personal network that you turn to first.
And, when you’re in want of career advice, before you ever look at Google, it will be your personal network to which you’ll ask your questions first.
And, when you’re starting a business and need to staff up, it will be your personal network that helps you find your first key hires.
Having a strong personal network enhances a person’s career and increases their lifetime income. Networks give access to opportunities people can’t easily find on their own.
As you build your personal network, then, focus on the following:
- Turn strangers into your acquaintances
- Turn your acquaintances into your friends
- Turn your friends into members of your inner circle
Behind every successful person is a successful personal network.
5 Ways To Build Your Personal Network
In business and life, it helps to have a strong network and to know good people.
Having a strong network gets you the interview and gets you the opportunity. It doesn’t get you the job — you have to do that yourself — but it will get you in the door.
Strong personal networks also give you a built-in sounding board for your life and career. As you move forward in your life, this is invaluable because nobody makes it without help.
To help you build your personal network, here are five ideas you can implement today.
1. Give way more than you expect to receive
To build a strong personal network, adopt a giver’s mentality.
Be a giver, not a taker. Add real value to your personal relationships and be available to help other people get what they’re after. Make introductions and recommendations, give advice and insight, and do whatever else is asked of you.
Remember: you’re networking to help other people, so help! Expect nothing in return.
Give your time, give your energy, and give your effort to the people in your personal network. What you give to your network today will come back to you in the future, in multiples. It always does.
2. Escape your bubble to meet new people
Meeting new people can be uncomfortable. It’s one of the reasons why we hang with the same friends, go to the same spots, and follow the same routines each day.
But, our friends were once all strangers. And, making strangers into friends is an excellent way to extend a personal network. The hard part is going to where the strangers are.
Think about your world and the places you go — the coffee shops, the gyms, the restaurants and breweries. If you changed it up and went to new coffee shops or joined a gym across town, you’d meet a lot of new people.
Same if you joined a special interest group or club in your community. It might feel weird to walk into a room to meet a bunch of strangers, but they’re only strangers until they’re your friends.
Getting outside of your routine will help you meet new people to add to your network. As your network size grows, so do your opportunities for long-term success.
3. Be aware of the thing that sets you apart from the crowd
Networking events are usually hosted for people with a common interest. Your school may host an alumni networking event, as an example; or your local chamber of commerce may host a business networking event.
At events like this, it’s easy to start a conversation because everyone has something in common. They all went to the same school or work in the same area.
To capture somebody’s interest in a conversation, then, you’ll need to understand what specifically sets you apart and makes you interesting. This will help you be memorable, which is a key part of building your network. It doesn’t have to be a business thing, either!
Maybe you were an extra in a movie; or, you took some outdoor adventure.
If you have trouble identify something fascinating about yourself, ask someone to do it who’s in your inner circle. And, you can do the same for them.
Making good conversation is part of building a strong network.
4. Make networking a calendared event
To make the most out of your networking efforts, do it regularly.
Identify events that have interest to you and register for them in advance. Go outside your community and meet new people. Be ready to give and to have a good conversation.
Networking works best when you do it repeatedly. Get out there at least 30 minutes per week and focus on building your network. Block the time in your calendar. Schedule it in advance.
Life gets busy and you will always have competing priorities. Networking is an investment in your future. Don’t leave your personal network to chance.
5. Be genuine and kind to all
More than anything, the reliability of your personal network depends on kindness.
Being kind means treating other humans with the respect they deserve, and giving our full attention to a person in the moment.
People like helping people they like. Be likable and human. Keep your mind and heart open to new connections and new friendships.
And, above all, be genuine.
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