by Surayya Taranum, PhD
We live in a world that is changing at an unprecedented pace thanks to technology, creating new opportunities that were not possible before. Yet, despite these tremendous resources, forging a fulfilling and successful career is harder than ever. A robust, diverse and sustainable network can help fast-track your career progress, and the key to building one is through adding value to relationships.
“One of the challenges in networking is everybody thinks it’s making cold calls to strangers. Actually, it’s the people who already have strong trust relationships with you, who know you’re dedicated, smart, a team player, who can help you.”
Reid Hoffman, co-founder & Executive Chairman at LinkedIn
Here are some tips to help you build those trust relationships, both with people in your network already, and with new acquaintances:
1. Share your specific knowledge – you are an expert in what you do, so be generous in sharing your knowledge in discussions, via articles or blog posts. This opportunity is a low-hanging fruit and an excellent way to add value, you will be amazed at how appreciative people are for knowledge you thought was obvious.
2. Share your resources – be generous with sharing your resources with your network. Let people know you are thinking about them by sharing information on new developments, events and articles relevant to their interests. You can do this in a variety of ways, through email, social media or text.
3. Be a ‘Superconnector’ – give your thought, attention and energy to the needs of your network. Don’t hesitate to make introductions that will add value to others. This is a simple way to inject positive vibes into your network and is a tremendous booster for your self-confidence.
4. Lend a listening ear – work hard to know others. Being a great listener is not optional; it is an essential factor in relationship building. It is also a two-way street; when you speak, you share what you know and when you listen, you learn. Remember that 85% of your career success will be the result of your people skills!
5. Be a mentor – help other people shine! Share your knowledge, wisdom and resources to help your mentee solve their problems, learn new skills and make progress. It is your chance to give back, and you will gain a personal sense of satisfaction from helping others. In addition, effective mentoring not only benefits the mentee but also improves the mentor’s empathy, leadership and active listening skills.
6. Be a volunteer – this is your opportunity to create impact in society while learning new knowledge, acquiring new skills and expanding your network easily and effectively. Besides the obvious career advantages, volunteering also has some other surprising benefits for the volunteer. Research shows that people who volunteer also feel more time affluent and improve in health. As Gordon Hincle said, “One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.” So make sure you don’t miss on this!
7. Acknowledge others – make eye contact with the other person during a conversation. Make an effort to remember their name. Stay in touch with people you meet at events to know them better, and keep adding value. Be sincerely appreciative of other people’s contributions to common projects and never fail to congratulate others for their successes. To quote Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”