I have to say, I’m pretty good at coming up with strategies. I’ve been doing it professionally for the past ten years, and academically for almost two years through Algonquin. Lately I’ve even been doing it for friends without even being asked, just because I see opportunities for them to increase their business reach or personal influence. But a strategy for myself? For developing my own professional network online and in-person? There are a million other things I’d rather do than sit down with myself and come up with ways to be more visible.
That said, I’ve been increasingly dissatisfied at work for the past…oh…year or more. I’ve finally reached something of a breaking point, and am seeing how important it is for me professionally, and for my own mental wellbeing, to start to focusing on maintaining and increasing my network of connections.
My present strategy is still fairly informal, but I have made three specific commitments to myself that involve online and offline activities that should help me find my next career step.
- Job shadowing – in the Communications shop that I work in, the strategic side is largely separate from the digital side. This means that, as a strategist, I come up with the social media plans, but the day-to-day implementation and evaluation is handled by the digital side. As a result, I don’t get to work with the platforms that my department uses, nor do I get to play much of a role in analytics, or user experience. So, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to approach my manager to get his support for me to do some job shadowing in digital communications this fiscal year. I discussed it with him about two weeks ago, and he spoke with the manager of the digital team, and they told me to go for it.
- Updating my Linkedin profile – I used to only look at Linkedin every few months to make sure my résumé was still up to date, but I decided to give my profile a bit of a refresh – new photo, updated CV and job title – and change my settings so that my profile is flagged to recruiters. I also decided to try paying for the Premium service for a few months, to see if the additional insights make a difference in the number of views that my profile receives. I have noticed a few more views in the past month, and have connected with a few more of my current colleagues on the platform.
- “Wanna grab a coffee or a beer?” – this is the toughest one for me. I get really anxious at the prospect of hanging out one-on-one or in groups when the explicit purpose is networking. But I know that, in my line of work (as in most), the surest way to find new opportunities is through who you know. So, my goal for the next six months is to start reaching out to former colleagues and friends to meet in casual settings, and discuss their experiences in their current jobs, and seek their advice about where/for whom I might want to try working next. At least one of the former colleagues on my list is someone very much like myself – introverted, type A, prefers email to conversation – so she should be fairly easy for me to approach, and have good insights to share.
So, I’ve made a start. I’ve even applied for a couple of jobs in the past few weeks where I included links to my profile on Linkedin and Instagram. And I think it’s working – I had an interview this past week (keep your fingers-crossed for me!), which, whether I get the job or not, was a big confidence booster. And as I progress through the three commitments I’ve made, I’m sure they will give me the impetus to keep working on building my brand and expanding my networks.
How do you prefer to build your networks? When it comes to your career, do you think it’s better to focus your energy on your online or offline relationships?