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Build up your professional network the right way

Make your connections count!
Build up your professional network the right way
Photo credit: iStock

Having a strong network of professional connections is a must when you are looking to advance your career. These days, it’s easy to put yourself out there online. But does having hundreds of “connections” on LinkedIn or followers on twitter who you don’t necessarily know in real life actually translate into having helpful people in your corner?

Acclaimed business columnist and networking expert, J. Kelly Hoey, believes that creating real meaningful connections by putting in the work face to face, you will be able to build up a substantial professional network. In her new book, “Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships in a Hyperconnected World”, she aims to strip away any preconceived notions that people may have and bring professional networking back to its basics.

“If you narrow your mind and only think of networking as an activity, I want you to think of it as every single human interaction,” explains Hoey, “How you greet security or the receptionist at your office, who you choose to sit next to in a coworking space, how you sign off on an email, whether you like someone's facebook post or retweet something … all of that is networking! All of the sudden you can say to yourself ‘I’ll have a lot more chances on a day to day basis to effectively connect with people if I take a little more care with my daily interactions.’ That to me is really scary and really liberating at the same time!”

Her approach is one that stresses just simply being a thoughtful and considerate person to the people you interact with on a day to day basis. As social media platforms stress building up large followings with people you may have never even spoken with, those thumbnail avatar connections won’t have your back when you actually need a boost professionally. “Day to day micro-networking interactions,” she says, “are far more meaningful to how you advance your career or your business than one luck cold email or some fortunate seating arrangement at a dinner party or on a plane.”

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In her book, she takes aim at the “random networking” crimes that most people commit. Blurting out cold emails that reek of desperation will only come off as disingenuous and if that person you are reaching out to for help doesn’t know you or sympathize with your situation, your intentions will seem self-serving.   

So if you want to build a strong network of people that can help you further your career, make sure to go the extra mile to solidify your relationships with thoughtful and caring interactions. Otherwise, you’ll just be another annoying person filling up people’s spam folders. Don’t be that person!