With an increasing number of digital tools, apps, and programs helping to create connections at our fingertips today, it is more important than ever to build your community through intentional connecting.
As the term ‘network’ gets muddled, we like to focus on the term ‘community’ and how we make sure our community is authentic in our digital realm. We have partnered with Verizon to bring you a few key tactics that will help you to build a fruitful, established, professional community.
1. Set your intention
No, I don’t mean in your yoga class. Before you think about how to grow your community, think about what you want your community to be for you. Do you want to learn more about an industry you’re not currently involved in? Learn how to advance your career in your current role? Are you looking to learn how to balance work and life? Answering these questions will help you determine what type of people you need more of in your digital community.
2. Set up a coffee with the future you
It’s easy to believe that the more meetings you have, the more productive you are. We’ve found that a more focused approach to building a community is far more effective than casting a wide net. When you’re trying to grow your community, build a list of titles or roles you think align with your career growth path. Then, reach out to those around you who have those titles, set up a coffee and start learning what they do, and how they got to where they are today.
3. Focus on quality, not quantity
Your ability to dedicate energy and focus to your professional relationships decreases with the volume of people you’re trying to connect with. Instead of reaching out to every person in a senior leadership role at your company, focus on building deeper relationships with one or two people you naturally connect with, and whose role you admire. Try to have 10 coffees with 2 people, instead of 2 coffees with 10 people. And don’t force a relationship with someone you don’t naturally connect with, no matter what their title is.
4. Make it a two-way street
Building your community isn’t just about getting advice and support – it’s also about giving those things. Often times, when we connect with someone we admire, we forget that the other person wants to be fulfilled by the relationship as well.
I have a ‘friend-tor’ whose career I admire greatly, and who gives me tons of advice. In return, I offer him a fresh perspective on his position as a leader and give him feedback that people he works with on a daily basis may not be giving him. As in any type of relationship, consider what you’re bringing to the table.
5. Your community is a living breathing thing
Keep in mind that your professional network may grow, shrink, or change as you continue on your career path. Some connections you may form could turn into friendships, while others may become obsolete the further you move along in your path. Maintaining connections is important, but also remember that the purpose of a professional network is to help your career flourish – not to be the most popular young professional in your city. Like most things in life, your professional community is a living, breathing thing and should be tended to and curated.