Maintain a strong professional network

Evaluate and cultivate your professional network to ensure continued success in your career. You never know when you'll need to call on others for assistance.

Perhaps the most important social practice every professional undertakes is networking. This is an ongoing practice that is a continuous work in progress for individuals at all levels and stages in their career.

Whether by means of social media or in person, networking is an important and continuous process of making new contacts and cultivating relationships. An often overlooked activity in networking is the reciprocity that needs to occur to maintain successful contacts. When times are good and you are not in need, it is absolutely crucial to cultivate your network and offer your input, skills and assistance to others within it, because at some point, you may need to call on them. Simply put, give more than you take and you will have a strong, supportive network when you need it.

Here are a few simple suggestions to cultivate and maintain your network:

  1. Attend social mixers or get-togethers
  2. Send a brief email to catch up, to offer your assistance, or simply to set a time to meet
  3. Pick up the phone or send a text message
  4. Send a personal “Thank You” or buy lunch for someone who assisted you recently

There are several organizations statewide that can help enhance your value and assist in building a strong professional network. Some of these include your local chambers of commerce, service groups, leadership institutes, young professional organizations, churches, local Michigan State University Extension programs and workshops, or local sports associations.

Remember, the key components to a successful professional network are:

  1. Continue to build your network. This is an ongoing process.
  2. Be sure to give and support those within your network more than you benefit from them, because you will one day call upon them when you need their support.
  3. Be active in seeking out new members of your network.
  4. Stay involved in your community.

These few simple practices will ensure a strong professional network that will lead to continued future success.

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