Business Development, Personal Selling

Career Networking | How to Develop Your Power of Association

When it comes to your career, your power of association will take you farther than you might realize. Many of my greatest successes have come from collaborations I’ve made through networking and my power of association. If you are looking for a new job, wanting to rise higher in your career, have a desire to find mentors or get guidance, or you want greater insights and opportunities, your network is the key!  This is why it’s so important to make career networking part of your regular weekly schedule and to fully understand how to develop and maintain your power of association. 

Why is career networking important?

Career networking can open many doors for you. When you develop peer relationships, you can get different points of view on your current position and develop your skillset with their support. The better your skills the more likely you will be to advance. And remember this is not one-sided. You can also be of service and do the same for them, which shows that you can develop other people, a key trait for advancement into upper management, not to mention that helping someone you like just feels good!

When career networking, taking the time to develop your relationships with managers, or other people who have risen in their careers (inside and outside of your field) can open up possible mentorship or referral opportunities. The Power of Mentorship is exceedingly effective when you get the right one. I’ve had several mentors during my lifetime; some for guidance and others that helped with networking and career development. They helped me avoid the obstacles they faced, connected me with people in their network and shared wisdom that helped me to rise higher much faster than I ever could have done alone. A mentor can do the same for you.

It is equally important in your career networking to develop relationships with people outside of your field. The power of association is vast. The way one industry approaches a topic or task, their trial-and-error learnings, or even the way they strategize, can help you make great leaps in your own industry when you apply what you learn to your situation. Many huge advancements, new ideas and products have come to life this way. 

And one of the biggest takeaways to remember about career networking is that, just like you, each person you know has connections to many people. That means, your network expands exponentially with every person you add to it. 

How can I improve my career network?

Improving your career network will have a different starting place for each person. If you are brand new to it, to start developing your connections, you can:

  • Reconnect with people from your alma matter 
  • Join industry groups
  • Attend networking groups
  • Take a new course and connect with like-minded people
  • Attend a workshop or event

Even standing in a line at a grocery store or while waiting for coffee can open up an opportunity to meet someone new! Connections can be made almost anywhere when you set your mind to it. 

Once you have an established network, it’s essential to keep expanding your connections, and even more important, to continue developing the ones you already have. Taking time each week to phone, text or meet with the members of your network will help you develop deeper bonds and improve the trust between you. These are the kind of ties that will keep you (or them) top of mind when an appropriate opportunity comes up. 

What is the key to networking?

The key to networking is to find just one or two people that you really want to spend time with. Career networking isn’t about quantity, it’s about quality. You are far better off to find just one person who wants to get to know you than you are walking away with a hand full of business cards from people who won’t remember you when you reach out.

As you focus on your career networking and learn how to develop your power of association, you will find that opportunities come your way faster and more often. It really is the best way to expand yourself personally and professionally. 

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