Think about the kinds of support you can expect from your network. Your need for support may be intensified when you are searching for work or considering a career transition, but your network can be instrumental to your success at all stages of your career.
Creating and maintaining an inventory of relationships can be useful. To begin, think about who you call when you need:
- Advice: People who have successfully done something you are working towards; people who can provide advice and assistance.
- Support: People with good listening skills and concern for you who will provide you with moral or emotional support.
- Information: People who have current information about what is happening in a field, sector, organization, or community.
- Connections: People who might open a door for you by providing a reference or an introduction to someone you should meet.
- Instruction: People willing to help you gain additional knowledge or who can tutor you on skills you require.
- Sponsorship: People who are willing to champion your ideas, provide you with a reference, or provide the funding you require.
Remember, you are a part of people’s networks too. You can add value to others’ networks by connecting people, offering your skills and talents, and providing knowledge. Be sure to thank your contacts when they help you and keep them up to date on developments in your career. Networking relationships are reciprocal which means you should treat people respectfully, learn what others need, and be thoughtful about making your relationships worthwhile.