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Three Simple Ways to Cultivate Your Network



This article was originally published by Brien Dunphy on LinkedIn.


Several weeks ago, I logged into LinkedIn to share my most recent article and started thinking about all of you - the people in my network. We come from a variety of industries and share varied experiences, yet we have one thing in common - we are all somehow connected.


As I sat there, I couldn’t help but think about the story our network tells of us. Beyond the places we have worked, the education we have been blessed to receive and the clients we have served, our network tells the story of the relationships we have built - those we’ve helped and those who have helped us somewhere along the way. Have you ever taken the time to think about your network and what it says about you and your professional story?


Your network is one of your most prized possessions professionally. It tells a story about who you are, what you provide and how well you provide it. It also serves as an authentic and unsolicited trumpet of your professional story. Beyond a list of who you’re connected to, your network is a resource bank for the present and an opportunity for the future.

Needless to say, cultivating that network is essential. But how can you do that well? It’s much easier and less time-consuming than people make it sound. Here are some quick tips and best practices.


Start the Conversation


Take initiative and reach out any (and every) time someone comes to mind. Resist putting it off until later. There is no better time than right now to do what you say you will do. Putting the reach-out off for a better time inevitably leads to forgetting to connect and missing the opportunity. Send that text or LinkedIn message. Share with them positive ways they have benefitted you or the value they brought to whatever context you know them from. People deserve to feel validated and appreciated. If you appreciate them, let them know! Let them know how they have inspired, encouraged, or even changed you for the better. Celebrate their successes. Whether it’s a new job or promotion, celebrate with them! And make it a point to stay in regular contact. To take it a step further, create a list of those you would like to stay in contact with and then mark your calendar to reach out regularly to those in your network.


Be a Champion


Do you know someone who is just great at what they do? Champion their professional services whenever the opportunity arises. When someone you know is looking for a service provider, make the connection. Do you know someone great at digital marketing, bookkeeping or graphic design, or someone who has helped you in your business? Yes, share their services with others; but even more than that, if they’ve added value to your business, tell that story as you make the referral. You will make a connection that not only benefits the person you are referring, but also the colleague you are referring them to. When you connect others, you are giving them value by giving them access to someone they did not know before.


Make Their World Better


Find ways to collaborate and offer value. There is always value you can add to the people in your network. Can you find ways to collaborate on a project? Can you help answer a question that they have, or can you connect them to someone that can get them that answer? Consider how you can add value to their business or career. Think beyond the usual to the skills and knowledge that you are uniquely positioned to provide. It can be as simple as pointing them in the right direction by sharing an article that you think would be of benefit to them. Commit to leaving everyone you engage with better, stronger, lighter than they were at the start of your conversation.


When cultivating your network, always put people first. Authenticity is important, be genuine and seek to help. It can take time to cultivate your network, but it is worth the effort. Now stop the scroll and reach out to someone in your network!


(And...it goes without saying, thank you for being a part of my network)!

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