Creating a valuable network of connections in the workplace is considered a sure way to quickly move up the corporate ladder. It is the platinum rule of getting ahead in your career. Connections in your career not only provide advice and guidance on how to tackle different tasks, they also offer the much-needed bridge to get to the next level. This is by offering you a passage to connect with their rich pool of professional connections and also push you to attain your full potential.
Most people have a general idea on the value of professional network connections and its contribution to a successful career. Networking not only contributes to a steady career growth, it also helps get things done faster and more efficiently, as one can use the input of their networks in a particular task. However, most people find it hard to actually create functional networks. They consider it unnatural to them and quite the daunting task. They consider networking as unnatural to them and something they cannot do.
The tips below will show you how to go about creating and maintain valuable relationships in the workplace.
This is about your social skills and your ability to interact with people from diverse professional backgrounds. It is a product of excellent communication skills and a likable personality. Your colleagues in the workplace are social beings who thrive on human interactions. Take time to interact with people every chance you get. Be it tea breaks, lunch hour etc. Talk to someone new, regardless of their rank or background. Get to know what they do and how they contribute to the overall organizational objectives. If you are shy, these are the best times to get over your shyness. Do not wait for a formal class on how to overcome shyness, take opportunities that present themselves in the form of professional tete-a-tete. Please note that office gossip is not the way to go when creating networks. Your target here is to know who can help you be the best version of your professional self, not who did what scandalous thing. In fact, being involved in office gossip will make serious, focused people avoid you. Be careful what you discuss and ensure you remain professional.
Look out for mutual connections
Train yourself in the art of reading people to find a common ground. People feel more connected to other people who share a common interest, ideology, point of view etc. Establish connections with people you find it easy to relate with. It makes the whole process more natural and easy. Someone with whom you share a similar interest is certainly easier to approach and discuss a task in the workplace or an idea. Even the simplest of interests e.g a love for football, a liking for a particular movie genre etc, is an opening for great and valuable workplace connections.
Be Diverse in your connections
Always remember that the potential value of any single connection is never known on face value. Network as much as you can within the office. Apart from just improving your communication skills and interpersonal etiquette, it opens your mind to new ideologies, perceptions, and ideas. While you focus on your professional field, be keen to keep warm relationships with the loose ties in other sectors. You never know when you will need input from the guy in finance or sales for your marketing project.
Be specific on the focused pursuits
Even as you maintain diverse interactions with everyone else around you, remember to have a targeted list of things you would like to accomplish with these networks, especially those in the line you would like your career to follow. Senior colleagues in your organization like the CEO or General Manager are busy people and interactions with them will be minimal. This means that you will have minimal interactions with them, so you need to ensure that you make the right impression during such times. When you have requests that require their attention, make the requests specific and to the point. Make it easy for the extremely busy people to help you and create value for your projects by being clear, professional and focused during your interactions with them. When approaching a high profile individual in your organization for their input, make sure you have conducted enough research on the topic of discussion, anticipate the questions they are likely to ask and prepare the appropriate feedback. This way, you get maximum value from a single interaction.
Guard your credibility
Be reliable in your professional dealings. Let people around you know that you can be relied on to do what you said you will do. Deliver results and always do your best when tasks are handed to you. Be careful not to overpromise results and under-deliver on the same. It makes you lose integrity in the eyes of people you would like in your networks. Relationships are about trust and people around you need the assurance that you can be relied on and trusted. Where you make mistakes, own up and seek to offer as much effort as possible in correcting them. A credible reputation among networks makes confidence of others in your abilities and work ethics grow. This will ultimately open doors for you in your career.
Stay in touch
This is mostly for the networks considered loose or weak because interactions are not as regular as your main connections. It is wise to check on these networks once in a while. Their potent value cannot be overlooked. You might need their assistance in future, and the constant connection will make it easy to approach them. Staying in touch also keeps you in their minds, in case they hear valuable information related to your career.
Make your network robust
Build your network strategically. Critically view every interaction as an interview with an individual who could be instrumental in your career life. Choose who to hold close, who to shelf for the moment, and who to keep as just an acquaintance. All these selections should be based on how relevant these people are to the future of your career, the level of connection and shared interests you have with them and how well you click. You will want people who influence, challenge and inspire you as your network connections. Begin creating these networks now and reap the benefits in no time.