As someone currently preparing to re-enter the workforce, putting together a strategy for developing my professional network is quite the timely assignment. At first this struck me as a somewhat daunting task, but my research leads me to believe that with the right guidance, small, sensible steps can lead to big payoff!
I know my first step in this journey has to be my LinkedIn profile. Much of mine is complete, except for the summary of my expertise – what LinkedIn says most people look at when evaluating candidates. I recently read an article by Pamela Vaughan, How to Use LinkedIn: 35 LinkedIn Tips for Professional Networking, Business & Marketing that suggests posting work samples and articles on your account to keep your profile fresh and dynamic. It also has lots of other great tips for entrepreneurs and those responsible for their company’s LinkedIn page. If you are a job seeker like me, this article from the Daily Muse Editor is a must read. So my commitment for developing my online professional network is to get my LinkedIn act together – make it complete, and make it dynamic by creating content that showcases my interests and skills.
With respect to developing my professional network in person, I will commit to doing a weekly search of business events, seminars, and conferences of interest to me personally or relevant to my intended direction professionally. The Ottawa Chamber of Commerce has a convenient Events Page with lots of events open to members and non-members alike, some are even free to attend. Watch in particular for the Mayor’s Breakfast and Eggs n’ Icons events, they tend to draw great crowds.
Whether online or in person, after making connections it’s important to nurture them. In Ten Ways to Build and Maintain Your Professional Network, the critical components of keeping in touch are emphasized (don’t make it all about you – remember their birthdays, acknowledge professional milestones, etc) to help ensure your network maintains a genuine interest in helping you out as well.