As part of your ongoing career management, targeted networking should be a part of your life. Whether you attend regular industry meetings, volunteer on internal committees, or join discussion groups on LinkedIn, building relationships with people in your field is a must.
However, I recommend staying open to networking at ALL times – you can build valuable connections in the least expected ways! Consider my own experience. While writing my book, “I Want to Work in an Association – Now What??” I interviewed Melissa Arthur, Manager of Chapter Services at the Institute of Real Estate Management. Since then, I’ve met other association professionals through Melissa, by attending events she’s put on as co-chair of the Component Relations SIG at the Association Forum of Chicagoland.
It’d be natural to assume we’d met through the association world, but that’d be wrong! About a year and a half ago, I mentioned on Facebook that I was going to Ghana with my husband, who was there for work. At this point, I knew nothing about the country, and didn’t know anybody who’d ever been there. My friend Cassie saw my post and put me in touch with Melissa who’d served in the Peace Corps in Ghana. It was only later that we found out about our association connection.
Strangely enough, this is just one example I have of networking without even realizing it! Not only have I had several similar experiences, I’ve heard numerous stories from others. LinkedIn actually gives us a visual of how small our world is, and how we’re all closely connected. The line between our work and personal life is often blurry, but sometimes this is a good thing – you may be growing your network and having fun at the same time!