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Expanding Your Network

May 7, 2015

A great network can help you in virtually limitless ways. Whether you are trying to pivot to a new career or get further ahead in your current field, knowing the right people will help make it happen. Everyone has their own focus on how they achieve this and how they build their network. Some people opt to collect as many business cards as they can, while others will only focus their attention on those that can do something immediate for them. Those that are new to it will often ask me how to go about networking and I give them the advice that has worked so well for me over the years.

Expand your field

Don’t limit yourself to networking in the circles involving your own profession. Expand the base of people you meet by networking at events that may be outside of your own industry. This is a great way to learn from new people and become interested in niches that you never even knew existed. This is especially true for young professionals who are still exploring their professions and finding out how small the world really is. You’re bound to run into many of those people again down the road and be able to help one another in ways you never imagined. 

Be genuine

If you’re being disingenuous, people will see through you in a second. The key is to be genuine when you’re meeting new people. Not much of a secret to be honest, but it often gets overlooked. Be honest with them, otherwise, you may end up wasting both of your time. Don’t limit yourself to the same basic networking questions over and over again. Expand your inquiries based on what the person actually tells you. If you’re not interested in what they have to say, then don’t expect them to be interested in you either. 

‘No man is an island’

I understand that there is a finite amount of time when networking at an event. I also understand that people’s priority is to get what they can for themselves out of a networking session. However, a vital fact to remember is that we are all interdependent. All of our professions and industries overlap at one point or another. Try not to take a ‘what can YOU do for ME’ approach when meeting people. You’ll find that it turns people away from you very quickly. Instead, take the ‘how can I help YOU’ approach. You’ll find that more often than not, a mutual benefit will arise and you will truly see the definition of the word ‘interdependent’ in ways you never imagined. 

Become a hub

My mantra towards networking is ‘become a hub of knowledge and access for people’. If you put together the advice from above, you’ll realize that you are slowly becoming a networking hub for other people. You become the person that knows people in various fields. People that contact me will begin with the phrase: ‘do you know anyone who…’. This is important because of how they got to that question in the first place. They asked themselves who the best person to turn to for advice in this situation is and decided to contact me. After you spend all of this time creating a network of people that you can connect to one another, you begin reaping great benefits. Instead of running around trying to find more people to connect with, you now spend that energy expanding a well developed network by having people come to you. The answer to their inquiry is a lot of times ‘Me. I can help you with that.’ This obviously creates a direct mutual benefit. 

When the answer is ‘someone in my network’, then there is an indirect mutual benefit. I connected two people in my network to solve their problems. When you help someone else out, they tend to give you access to their own network of contacts. By going out of your way to help someone else, you can gain access to an entire network of people instead you would never have met otherwise. All of this starts with establishing a good network of people you can turn to.

Go out there and enjoy meeting new people at as many events as you can. You will be pleasantly surprised at the things they have to teach you and how much you have to offer them.

Sasa Jurovicki
Senior Accountant, MNP LLP