Everyone “knows” networks are valuable. But, how do you create one? You probably already have an informal network, you just don’t know it. They are your friends who tell you where things are on sale, co-workers who recommend schools for your children, and an old college roommate who made a fortune in real estate. Your goal is to expand your network and to make it work for you.
- Volunteer: There isn’t any better way to meet community leaders. Try to volunteer in a high-profile capacity that will showcase your skills such as organizing a fundraiser or making speeches for the organization. Polish a reputation for being the go-to person in the organization who can get difficult jobs done.
- Make a donation: Contribute to your community in as many small ways as you can to get your name known. If you can’t give cash, give a sample of your skills. Either of these methods will do a lot for your image and increase networking opportunities.
- Sponsor something: Sponsor an event (if you can afford it) or one runner in a race to get your name out there.
- Do favors: Do favors regularly for people in your network. Then, when you need something done they will be receptive to helping you.
- Attend professional and trade meetings in your field to meet new people.
- Write thank you notes to everyone who helps you out in any way. This will set you apart as a true professional.
- Keep business cards and contact information in an organized, safe place so you can refer to them when you need them.
- Share your information. Being known as someone who knows other people and can provide introductions will enhance your reputation considerably.