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  • Goldie Hartford

Building and maintaining your network

In today’s noisy and hyper fast pace of life, where time and resources are at a premium, networking is often left to a chance meeting while getting coffee or passing someone in the doorway of a conference room; or in the virtual world it may not even be happening!

Professional networking does not have to be a big, grand event where people hand out business cards, sip beverages and try to come up with small talk in a room full of people. You also do not need to be an extrovert to create networking opportunities.

Networking is a very important part of leadership and any leader needs to make it a priority and commit to doing some form of networking on a recurring basis. Perhaps you mix it up from month to month, what’s important is that you do it!

Here are a few benefits of creating your own networking opportunities:

- It will help you connect with peers & colleagues that you may not interact with often (or at all).

- It will help you learn about other areas of your organization or field that you would not otherwise learn about.

- It will help you learn about up coming projects, vacancies, internal changes and even challenges.

- It will help you keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your industry or market.

- It will open the possibility for new friendships with other like-minded people.

- It will provide you with the opportunity to share a bit about yourself and create those meaningful connections that otherwise may get missed, which is an important part of being a successful leader.

So, how might you do this? Here are a few options for you to consider:

1. Random 30 min connect meetings

  • Each month commit to choosing 4, somewhat random individuals that you may have a limited opportunity to engage with, and setup a 30 minute ‘connect’ meeting with them. These may be people that you rarely or only occasionally see or interact with, but you have met them on occasion.

  • No Agenda needed! This is simply to talk about whatever is on your minds and to learn more about each other. Hint: If you are someone who doesn’t really do well with small talk, then have a couple of points noted on subjects that you enjoy talking about at ready to help you feel more comfortable.

  • It also helps to explain to the person what you’re doing and why – share this idea with your friends.

  • As you cycle through your monthly meet up, don’t forget to reconnect with those that you connected with a few months back! This is a continuous cycle.

  • This is also a wonderful way to meet new employees to your org. If you hear of a new person joining, make a point to do this with them to introduce yourself, your dept. and what you do. They will appreciate the gesture (just think about when you were new to a org) and it will provide you with a great opportunity to meet the new person.

2. Have a business lunch with 3 others

  • This can be at your cafeteria, a local lunch spot, or a nearby outdoor space that you bring your own lunch.

  • Suggest people to bring a new idea, article they’ve recently read or use it to simply connect over what ever is on people’s mind.

  • Don’t forget my previous comment on the new employee, this is also a great opportunity to include them.

  • If you feel like you’re running out of people to ask, then ask the people that typically are in your circle to bring someone new to join your group.

3. Create your own mastermind group

  • Bring together a group of people that share the same passions and interests (professional or personal) to share ideas, thoughts, and concepts. This may be via a lunch, evening dinner at a quiet restaurant or even hosted by yourself (you don't have to cook, order in). It also serves as a great way to mix business and personal interests.

4. Take a walk around the office and talk with people

  • This one was a tip given to me by a mentor a few years back. It was when I was new to the organization, and it really made a difference in getting to know people and them getting to know me.

  • About two or three times a week I’d grab my coffee or water bottle or even a jar of chocolate to share and I’d walk around the office building (or a portion of it) and just touch base with people. Who I chatted with was completely random and dependent on who was around, and it was always a great way to connect with people. If you are wondering how much time this took – I rarely spent more than 3-40 minutes doing this.

If you found this article helpful it would be wonderful of you to share it with other leaders.

Do you want to explore how coaching can help you in your leadership journey, check out my 'work with me page' to see how.


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