Business networks are the lifeblood of a successful careers. Business networks can support your work, help you find mentors and help you find your next job. Most people don't actively seek to build their network but instead only tap it when looking for another job.
But building a business network doesn't have to be hard. Here are 3 painless ways build it.
Get personal e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers
Most people never get the personal information needed to maintain and build their business network. Think about this a minute. When someone leaves the company to go work at another company, how do you get in touch with that person without the personal, rather than corporate information? Or the company has a layoff and a hundred people you know get laid off. Most of them will find a position in another company--giving you new contacts in a hundred new companies. But only if you have their personal information so you can stay in touch.
Every time I send out my monthly newsletter, I get about a hundred "out of office" responses. You really don't want your career resources on company systems. You need to have them on your own personal systems. It is the only way you can add to your business network.
Go to lunch with different people
In a world of layoffs, poor advice would have you stay and eat lunch at your desk to stay "visible." Right. Like isolating yourself will help keep your job.
No, you need to continually connect with others and not just with the same people. A simple way to meet new people and find out what is going on with people is to go to lunch with a variety of others, whether from your company or not. These people have their own circle of friends and acquaintances, so this is a natural and painless way to get to know other people and build your business network.
Help one person a day in your business network
Develop the habit of helping one person a day in your business network. Helping others is the key to keeping yourself visible to your business network. And valued.
Now helping someone else doesn't necessarily mean taking an hour a day to help. Helping could simply be answering a good question from someone in your network. Or forwarding a spot-on article to someone in your business network that would help them in their work.
It's way too easy (perhaps painless?) to fall into not creating value for people in your business network. By having a habit of helping one person a day in your network, you'll continually help others.
Your business network is a career resource
While it is almost a given that most jobs openings are found through one's business network, few of us consciously set out to build and maintain our business network. But building and supporting your business network doesn't have to be rocket science. Using these simple techniques will go a long way to getting you the network you need.
How else have you built your business network?