We have all heard the saying “your network is your net worth”. This statement is very true. The people you surround yourself have a great impact on your success. I know as working women we have many roles to fulfill. We are wives, mothers, co-workers, line managers, friends, sisters, church leaders…….the list is endless . Trying to fit time for all these roles and still have time to build a strong professional network might not be easy. One thing is for sure, you aren’t going to make it alone. You need others. Today I would like to share these 7 simple ways that I personally use to build my professional network. Please note this is about genuine relationship building. Build your network before you actually need it. Networking should not be about what you can get. It’s about what is beneficial for everyone involved.
1. Make LinkedIn your best friend – When it comes to professional platforms, LinkedIn is one of the best out there. You have an opportunity to do different things on the platform including:
a) Connecting with others in your industry.
b) Getting access to job opportunities. I got my current role via LinkedIn, and I wasn’t even on the premium option.
c) Position yourself as an expert in your industry through sharing relevant content.
2. Do not ignore your high school, college/ university alumni associations – former school mates are great way to network. I am in one alumni association where we only discuss business opportunities. We don’t talk about anything else. No politics or trending topics, just opportunities only. Through this group I have received several business referrals and opportunities. There isn’t any time commitment needed for this one because we are all scattered all over the world and only engage through our WhatsApp group.
3. Join your professional association – Most professions have a body that represents the interests of individuals in that industry or profession. Professional associations assist their members through learning programs, networking opportunities and sometimes job opportunities that are are only accessible to members. A simple internet search of your profession, location and the word association should bring up all the options available near you. Take up a role in your professional association to enhance your visibility and get access to the movers and shakers in your profession. Beyond just being a member, connect with others personally. Ask for a virtual coffee meeting and make sure you come prepared to ask the right questions as well as to add value. If your professional association has a magazine, make an effort to be a regular contributor to the magazine so you build yourself as an expert in your industry. Even as a mom, you can create time for your professional development without overloading your already full plate.
4. Participate in other volunteer organisations – you network doesn’t have to only be made of people who are in your industry or profession. That is a blinkered way to approach your career. Cast your net wide and join or participate in volunteer organisations. Your weekly church cell group not only builds you up spiritually, it exposes you to people to build genuine relationships with. During lockdown in 2020, I joined Toastmasters a global organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Meetings happen twice a month so that isn’t too demanding. Each meeting usually runs for a maximum of 2 hours. In the month of August and September alone I attended meetings in Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia without actually leaving the comfort of my home. I have met so many people that I now communicate with beyond Toastmasters business.
5. Search for events near you on Facebook– the pandemic has brought events that were normally in-person online. Without leaving your children or struggling to arrange a baby sitter, you can join events that are relevant for you virtually.
6. Join a Lean In Circle near you or create one if there isn’t any near you. Lean In is an organisation that was founded by Sheryl Sandberg the COO of Facebook. The Lean In mission is to help women achieve their dreams and create an equal world. A Lean In circles is a group of 8-12 women who meet regularly, in person or virtually to support one another and learn new skills. When our family relocated to Johannesburg in 2019, building a professional network was a top priority for me. I reached out to a friend and together we created a Lean In Circle. We currently meet once a month to discuss various topics that affect us as women in corporate. We share our experiences and sometimes bring in expert speakers. Through the Circle we have unlocked opportunities for each other. If there is no Lean In Circle near you, create one. The Lean In website has guidelines on how to get a Circle going.
7. Register for the MumInStilettos Roadmap To Career Success Group Coaching Program – if you have tried to navigate your career on your own without much success, then this 6 week group coaching program is for you. In the program, you are going to meet other ambitious women who are looking to take their careers to the next level. Whether you are just starting out or you are a seasoned professional, I will hold your hand hand help up you accomplish the following:
a) Set clear and actionable career goals.
b) Clear actions on the steps you need to take to achieve your career goals.
c) Work on your personal brand and build brand YOU.
d) Introduce you to the Power of 3 Framework.
e) The art of self promotion.
At the end of 6 weeks, you will have a clear roadmap with step by step guidance on how to take your career to the next level. Register for the program on the link below and I will get in touch with you. https://vb3l7g3vfl3.typeform.com/to/x4JKBO04