3 Ways to Improve and Expand Your Network

Networking can lead to new opportunities for you and your career, help you branch out to new people and industries and more. However, if networking doesn’t come naturally to you, it can be challenging to figure out how, when and where to improve and expand your network. The following tips can help you strengthen your networking skills enabling you to increase your network for maximum benefit.

Work on your people skills

If you’re an extrovert, you may thrive off interaction with others and have no trouble with people skills. But if you’re an introvert, or an extrovert who could use some assistance, try strengthening your ability to listen, communicate with and relate to others. These abilities are key to networking.
The adage “practice makes perfect,” is a good mantra to adopt in this instance. Strike up conversations with people you encounter every day, whether it be the cashier at the grocery store or the mail carrier. This daily interaction can help you develop conversational skills necessary when networking.
Not sure how to get started? Check out Steinar. He decided he was spending too much time on his phone and made a resolution to meet a new person every day for one year.
His mission to meet someone new each day lead him to an investor for one of his startups. He also met hundreds of others with unique and interesting stories (like the guy who competes in Rubik cube competitions or the Vietnamese refugee who came to the U.S. when he was 6).

Lend a Hand

Are there community volunteer opportunities for individuals or businesses in your area? Take some time and get involved. Lending a hand can lead to some great connections.
These community opportunities can lead you to interact with city and community leaders as well as other community members. If that’s not enticing enough, check the added benefits of improved health here.
In addition to helping your community, be available to lend assistance to friends, family and acquaintances. Did someone send out a request via social media looking for a recommendation? Respond and give meaningful suggestions.
Do you know someone who is unemployed? Send along job opportunities if you know of any. The person will likely remember your assistance when you need a favor.

Strengthen Relationships

Once you’ve established relationships, strengthen them. Work on developing these relationships into friendships, partnerships and more.
Wondering how to do this? Start with people who have similar interests. If you’re an avid racquetball player, invite your acquaintance who enjoys playing to join you.

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Another excellent way to keep in touch is to never eat alone. Invite a friend or co-worker to have lunch with you. Schedule several of these each month and you’ll have ample opportunities to strengthen your relationships.
Be sure to pass along invites to business related events as well. If your college, club or cohort is hosting something, make sure your network is invited. Or if you’re attending a conference, find out if other acquaintances will be there and arrange to meet.

The Takeaway

You don’t have to be an expert networker. Simply put the tips discussed into practice and watch your network grow.