(EVEN WHEN YOU’RE BUSY)
As any professional knows, the key to success is not about what you know but who you know. Networking has become so crucial to getting our foot in the door and making those valuable connections that we can lean on throughout our career. But, what do you do when you just don’t have the time to network? With work, life and possibly volunteering and/or side businesses added in the mix, it may seem as though it’s virtually impossible to find the time.
Lucky for you, conferences and in-person networking events are not the only way to network. Here are 5 ways you can build and maintain your professional network, even when you’re busy:
Don’t think that you have to network with everybody and anybody. Besides, not everyone will bring value to your network. Be extremely selective about who you connect with by ensuring that they share similar interests. You may think that you’ll look better if you have 500+ connections on Linkedin and hundreds (or thousands) of followers on other platforms. But, if someone were to look through those followers, would majority of them be fake accounts or accounts that have no relevance to you, whatsoever? At the end of the day, it is much more valuable for you to have 50-100 valuable + strong Linkedin connections as opposed to 500+ connections that serve no purpose.
Plus, not to mention, it will take you a lot less time to network with 50-100 people versus 500+. Not only does being selective with who you add to your network benefit you, it also makes you more valuable to others as they associate you with having connections to people of a certain caliber.
CREATE A SCHEDULE
Once you have your network of people established, it can be extremely helpful to create a schedule to maintain your relationship with them. This can be as simple as using your phone’s calendar to set reminders to connect with particular people. To keep in touch with past employers, set a calendar notification for every 3-4 months to email your old colleagues. Once you have that set, you don’t have to think about it until the day comes.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR LUNCH BREAKS
Instead of using this valuable time to catch up on YouTube videos and Buzzfeed articles, start using your lunch time to network! Ask someone to lunch who you haven’t talked to in a while or get to know that new person in your office a little better. If you’re unable to find a lunch companion, you can also do some virtual networking – connect with someone new on Linkedin or send an email to an old colleague. You’ll be surprised at how much you can get done in an hour!
PARTICIPATE IN TWITTER CHATS
Of course, I’ve already written about how participating in Twitter chats can help you build your personal brand. But, they are even more helpful when you’re busy and don’t have the time to attend an in-person networking event. Most Twitter chats typically run for no longer than 1 hour and of course, you can join in from wherever you are! Again, be selective with which ones you join in on – search for chats that bring together people who have similar interests/careers to you and you’ll find that you’ll make some very valuable connections in a matter of minutes!
SHARE AND ENGAGE WITH CONTENT
If you’re like me and you spend quite a bit of time each day consuming content, this will be quick and easy. When you come across an article or video that resonates with you, use the social sharing buttons (I mean, it’s 2016 – every website should have these by now) to quickly share it across your social networks, especially Linkedin. I try to share interesting content at least 2-3 times a week to stay relevant among my networks. I also recommend setting aside 10 minutes everyday (or every other day if you’re really on a time crunch) to comment on what other people have shared. The key here is to not let your online connections forget that they’ve connected with you – stay visible!
By taking advantage of these 5 networking methods, you can build and maintain your connections in an hour or less each day! If you’re strategic about how you use that time, you’ll find that despite your busy schedule, your network and your personal brand isn’t suffering.
How do you network when you’re short on time?