BY BEN QUINTANA
BOISE YOUNG PROFESSIONAL
How many people do you know, and more importantly, how many people know you? Try to understand the significance of the latter half of the question.
Actively and effectively building business connections will have a positive impact on your career whether you’re a young or experienced professional.
Your next job, promotion or business deal may be directly connected to the strength of your network. Many experts report an alarming statistic that over 70 percent of jobs are never advertised. If you, or someone you know, are one of the thousands of unemployed people in Idaho who are actively seeking work, then networking should be at the top of your list of strategies to enhance your career opportunities.
The following five suggestions will help new and seasoned professionals start, or refine, their business networking strategies for 2010 and beyond.
1. Determine what you want. What are you trying to accomplish? Spend time visualizing your desired outcome. Are you searching for a business partner, looking to hire an ideal candidate or simply wanting to increase your awareness? Understanding what you want and knowing what you’re passionate about will help you stay focused on achieving your goals.
2. Find a regular place to network. Narrow your focus and find a networking group. Talk to your friends, co-workers and business contacts to learn about good places to network. A few good examples in Idaho include local / regional chambers of commerce; state / local industry or trade associations; groups like Boise Young Professionals or Kickstand; and service-based organizations such as Rotary, Kiwanis or Lions Club.
3. Set networking goals. Plan monthly targets for making new connections and nurturing existing relationships. For every one- or two-hour business event you attend (e.g., luncheons or networking receptions), plan to meet five to 10 new people. Focus on spending no more than 10 minutes with each new person you meet and limit the time you spend with your friends and co-workers.
4. Give first. The focus of networking should be on building mutually beneficial relationships. Instead of always trying to satisfy your own networking goals, plan to help others accomplish theirs first. Look for ways to help others, and they will look for opportunities to help you.
5. Volunteer. Once you’ve found a great place to network, commit to a volunteer position. Volunteering is one of the best ways to network. In the process of providing your time and talents to networking groups or organizations, you will demonstrate your abilities, learn new skills and develop relationships with other people connected to the organization.
So far in 2010, the world is watching and anxiously waiting to see if the national and local economic engine will gain enough steam to finally pull through the current economic downturn.
While the world waits, opportunities are presented to individuals who choose proactive ownership of his or her own future. The world rewards those who have started, and continue to effectively develop, a strong network of business connections.
Building mutually beneficial relationships and forming business connections is a long-term strategy that often produces immediate results. Start today, build a plan and get ready to enrich your life through the habit of effective networking.
Ben Quintana is the Director of Public Relations and Leadership Development for the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce. He is the founder of Boise Young Professionals and continues to oversee the direction of the program.