Five Ways to Expand Your Personal and Professional Networks
When you think about expanding your network, you probably think about expanding your professional network. It’s true that paying attention to the number and quality of your professional connections is important, but it’s also important to think about your personal network too!
Having friends makes life more fun, and they can help you when you fall on hard times, but it’s also true that there are no hard lines between your personal and professional connections. Professional connections can easily become friends, and personal connections can uncover new career opportunities. That’s why, when you work to expand your professional network, you should also pay attention to expanding your personal network too.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
Connecting in-person is important and effective, but we can also make connections digitally in the 21st Century. For most people, that means utilizing social media. Sites like Facebook and Instagram are great places to meet new friends, while sites like LinkedIn are great places to make professional connections across the country.
Just don’t make the mistake of thinking that social media websites are the only way you can connect with other people. For example, online advocacy software is a great way to engage supporters if you work for a nonprofit organization, while gamers may find new friends by playing their favorite games online. You can become a regular in the comments section of your favorite blog, you can start your own blog, and you can reach out by email to professionals you admire.
Join a Group or Organization
One of the best ways to connect with others, whether you’re looking for friendship or professional opportunities, is to join a group or an organization.
This is a little easier to do if you’re looking for personal connections. You can join a book club, an intramural sports team, or even take a class, like a cooking or exercise class. By going to gatherings repeatedly, you will undoubtedly make new friends.
There are plenty of groups and organizations you can join if you’re looking for professional connections too! Just a few include:
- Women in Business groups
- Your local Chamber of Commerce
- Your local Convention and Visitor’s Bureau
- Local merchant associations
- Your local chapter of Rotary International
In many cases, joining a group or an organization requires a monetary investment. For many, the investment is well worth the pay off, but if you’re looking for ways to connect that don’t require you to spend any money, consider volunteering instead.
There are many benefits of volunteering, one of which is the ability to connect with others. If you volunteer with the same groups repeatedly, you’ll work with the same people, which means you’re likely to make friends with the people you’re working with.
Most volunteer organizations work with businesses and organizations, in addition to working with individual volunteers. That also gives you the opportunity to make professional connections that could result in new career opportunities.
Reconnect With Old Connections
It’s easy to lose touch with both personal and professional connections over time. Over the years, you will probably find yourself talking with old friends from high school less and less, and it’s normal to find that years have passed since you’ve talked to an old co-worker that you used to be quite close with at your previous job.
You can quickly and easily expand your network by reconnecting with people you’ve lost touch with. Reconnecting with an old friend might be as easy as reaching out to them on social media to see how they’re doing or asking an old coworker if they would like to grab a cup of coffee sometime.
Get Out There and Socialize
Many people make the mistake of thinking that networking, especially in a professional sense, is something that includes stuffy, uncomfortable events that you have to attend that you would rather not. They don’t have to be so formal!
The key to effective networking that isn’t awkward is to socialize instead of forcing yourself to attend events you don’t want to attend. Striking up a conversation at a local bar or attending a friend’s party can result in a new friendship, but it also has the potential to provide you with new business opportunities.
Expanding your professional network is surprisingly similar to expanding your personal network. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a new friend or a new business opportunity, if you follow the tips on this list, you’ll make new connections in no time!