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#5 – Survive ‘n Thrive Networking

friends_circleDoes size really matter?  Yes it does…especially when it comes to self-promotion and networking.  Men may naturally be more boastful, but we have bigger networks!  This is where we have the edge.  We have an advantage, because we understand the power of relationships.

It’s one thing to toot your own horn, but another thing to have someone else sing your praises and rave about you.  When you are promoted, endorsed, and recommended by a third-party, people take notice.  However, keep in mind that networking is a two-way street…it’s professional karma.  You should be actively promoting others if you want, and expect, to be promoted.  That’s the way it works.

The reality show, “Survivor”, is a perfect example. No one here is stranded on an exotic island, foraging for food and learning how to make fire.  But the two most valuable qualities that help a contestant win Survivor also help every professional today.  Hard skills, like building shelter, may bring value to your tribe…but it’s your social skills, your network and alliances, that get you further ahead in the game and keep you from being voted off the island.

The same is true whether you’re competing for a job or looking to further your career within a company.  Your network, advocating on your behalf, is everything.  As a job search strategy, networking has always been and will always be the #1 strategy.  It has a 75-80% success rate (90% for executives) and no other strategy comes close. That’s the power of networking.

Your network extends your reach. Promoting yourself all day every day is not only exhausting, but it’s completely unrealistic and ineffective.  Cultivating a vast network of influential people, both internally and externally, who can “put in a good word” for you, open doors, and make referrals is truly the key to success.

Even though women tend to be more social, and value relationships, networking is not always an innate skill.  Here are a few tips to help improve your networking skills…

  • set realistic goals and expectations
  • it’s all about quality connections, not quantity
  • practice your messaging and “elevator pitch”
  • don’t sell…develop relationships
  • be an active listener
  • give referrals and be a resource for others
  • even if it’s a party, you’re still networking
  • measure your efforts and results
  • follow-up, follow-up, follow-up

Building a network is not just about collecting business cards.  It’s the close, long-term, and mutually beneficial relationships with your network that will have a direct impact on your promotional efforts.  Attending a networking event is a great first step, but it’s not enough.  All the magic happens in the follow-up.

The first follow-up strategy is to get connected on LinkedIn.  By now, every single professional should have a LinkedIn profile.  Not only is it mandatory for your online presence, but it exponentially grows your network. You can now tap into the networks of all your LinkedIn connections. Think of it as your personal Rolodex on electronic steroids.

In order for your LinkedIn profile to be a better self-promotion tool, here’s what you need to do…

  • get a professional headshot
  • make sure it’s accurate, thorough, and represents your brand
  • give and receive recommendations and endorsements
  • join groups and discussions
  • send invitations
  • update your profile frequently
  • keep in touch with contacts

The bottom line is, the more people that know you, know what you’re doing, and know what you want, the more people that can help you.  It’s nearly impossible to promote yourself if you’re isolated…don’t be an island.  Get a tribe!

Whether you are competing for $1 million on Survivor, competing with 100 other applicants for a new job, or competing with your co-workers for a promotion, it’s important to recognize the power of a supportive network. Remember, the one with the most votes at the end is the winner.

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