Make 2016 the year you re-evaluate and refresh your network. We all have a network circle, but you should take a look and figure out how to expand your network–something every professional should do.
So what should you be looking for when you reevaluate your network? “People who are leaders in their/your field. Reconnect with them during times when you don’t need their help. Stay on their radar and they are more likely to assist you when you do need someone of their caliber,” explains Andrea Donlon, founder of The Constant Professional.
While you should be selective as to who is in your network, it should be a broad network. “It should include friends, family, coworkers, colleagues–in short, everyone. You never know who you will need or who may need you. Amassing employment karma is key to a good, usable network of contacts,” says Donlon.
Step outside your industry circles and meet others who may be valuable to your network. There are many ways to do this. Network based on products you like by joining groups centered around them. Volunteer for a cause you care about.
Be friendly in your new interactions–a smile can go a long way. “Be personable and offer these people the best of yourself. If called on for assistance, answer the call. Networking is a two way street so be responsive to those in your network looking for your expertise,” says Donlon.
“When you reevaluate your network, look for a balance between people you can give value to in the form of referrals, advice, and encouragement and people you can receive value from,” Beth Bridges, founder of the Networking Motivator and author of “Networking on Purpose: A Five-Part Networking Success Plan to Build a Powerful and Profitable Business Network,” points out. “Giving value is the foundation of your networking success, but if you’re giving to people who have no intention of giving back (whether to you or someone else), then you’re going to make yourself frustrated and bitter. But, if you’re only looking for people who are going to give you something, you’re also going to be frustrated–you can only play that game for a short time before people realize you’re only in it to use them.”