• Entrepreneurship

Developing a Knowledge Network

Increase your visibility and advance your business and career through personal connections.

The purpose of professional networking is to gain information, increase your visibility in your field, and establish personal connections that will help you advance in your business and career. A strong knowledge network allows you to get advice from trusted sources, to keep your professional knowledge current, to keep up-to-date with the latest tools and techniques, find career opportunities, and to support the careers of others.

Best Practices to Building your Network:

  1. Plan and commit to networking opportunities
    • Find relevant networking opportunities, i.e. professional associations, conferences, training events.
    • Your network should have lots of variety; individuals from different companies, career levels, and professions can add a range of perspectives
    • Remember existing contacts, including faculty, friends, family and former colleagues.
    • Schedule opportunities in your calendar and commit to it.
  2. Think Strategically
    • Think about what you hope to get out of attending a network opportunity.
    • Prepare a few questions that you want to explore.
    • It is good practice to carry a supply of clean, up-to-date, crisp business cards. If necessary, consider having your own personal contact cards printed.
  3. Meet ‘New’ people
    • Remember your aim, and make sure you speak to people you haven’t met before.
    • Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to people – often times a smile, handshake and brief introduction such as, “Hi, I’m Adrian, I don’t think we’ve met yet,” can often be an easy way to strike up a conversation.
    • Consider preparing an “elevator speech.” Write a summary of what you want people to know about you that can be delivered in less than 30 seconds. Be upbeat and succinct: who you are, what you do, what you’re looking for.
    • Most importantly be confident and genuine.
  4. Exchange Contact Information
    • Be sure to exchange cards or contact details. You might also want to add a few lines describing the person/their role to help remember them in future.
  5. Stay in touch
    • Professional relationships strengthen over time, so make sure you stay in touch with your network. For example, if you see an opportunity that someone in your network might be able to bid for, let them know.
    • A simple call or email from time to time to catch up is all that it takes to keep your connections with old and new contacts fresh.

Tip: Your mentor is best equipped to offer comprehensive guidance for your business however at times you may need to get ideas or suggestions from other sources. Gather information and ideas from your Knowledge Network and review them with your mentor. He or she can offer a perspective that is rich with an understanding of your current business situation and objectives.

Reed, A. 6 Simple Tips for Building a Professional Network. Source: http://www.bridging-the-gap.com/6-simple-tips-for-building-a-professional-network/