5 Mistakes You Are Making When Expanding Your Professional Circle

by Sienna Walker

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There’s never a wrong time, or a bad purpose, to expand your professional circle. It doesn’t matter if you love your job and want to stay in the same position forever, or if you’re out of work and desperately seeking employment. Networking helps everyone thrive professionally. It enhances our ability to be successful at our jobs and oftentimes leads to better opportunities in the future. If your professional networking strategy isn’t working for you, perhaps it needs a little retooling.

1. Skipping In-Person Events

Networking group

Many people don’t perceive professional networking events, seminars, industry expos, and trade shows to be the most scintillating way to use their time. Attending them often seems strenuous, as it involves travel and monopolizes a weekend. While you don’t have to attend every single relevant event within a reasonable radius from your home, you should make an effort to pick and choose a few.

Meeting people in person gives you a better chance to make a great first impression. Your personality will shine. People will associate your name, face, voice, personality, and professional capabilities all at the same time – a dimension that’s missing from the internet. Networking online is great, but you shouldn’t do it at the expense of face-to-face conversation with other professionals. If a big and popular event in your niche is approaching fast, do make time to attend it – it will certainly make you known to a few more people and might be a gateway to new opportunities and relations.

2. Using the Wrong Platforms for Your Goals

There are billions of active accounts across the giant social media platforms that people use on a daily basis. Of course there are hundreds of ways to expand your professional circles there. Groups and accounts exist solely to bring likeminded professionals together. Huge platforms are great for general networking, but what about specific networking?

Smaller networks and message boards exist for highly specific professions and niches. If you’re looking to network with other people who do exactly what you do or people whose professions complement yours, try your hand at niche networking platforms. You’re more likely to find the perfect crowd for your ambitions.

3. Missing Opportunities at Work

Networking with new people is always a treat and is the main aim of those trying to boost their professional circle. However, have you ever considered networking with the people you’ve known for long? When we enter a new group of people, be it at a college or work, we often forget to bring them into our professional network. After all, we have already got to know them, and they are here, with us, every day.

That's a mistake. People you already work with or attend classes with may be exactly what you’re seeking. Networking within your own work place can lead to greater opportunities. The better your rapport with your higher ups, the more likely you are to be entrusted with responsibility.

If someone higher on the chain of command needs to send an employee away on a business trip, let them know you want first dibs. If a great position is opening up at another office and they’re looking to fill it with a transfer, toss your name in the hat. You’ll only know what’s on the horizon if you strengthen your professional relationships with the people right in front of you.

4. Creating a Lackluster Profile

Professional networking websites like LinkedIn utilize a very familiar format. It’s very easy to treat your LinkedIn profile like a resume. In fact, many employers will ask for links to the LinkedIn profiles of candidates. While listing work experience in resume format is a great idea, treating your bio or summary like a resume is not.

Because of LinkedIn’s rigidly professional format, the only place you have to shine is your little summary box. Use that place to express your talents, enthusiasm, and personality. It’s a great opportunity to sell yourself to whoever may be looking, including recruiters. Your LinkedIn bio should make people like you, but most importantly, remember you. Even if they don’t have your dream job open right away, you want them to think of you the moment that the position becomes available.

5. Forgetting Your Value and Personal Branding

Instead of going to everyone else, you can always make them come to you. If you establish yourself as a helpful, trustworthy authority in your niche, it won’t be hard to expand your professional circle. Make yourself a website. Feature a small portfolio of your best work. Write a few eBooks. Start a blog. Put yourself out there.

The more you update your website with relevant and helpful information, the more people will find you. Your advice will get shared between professionals. People will leave comments. If it’s well researched and incorporates a lot of industry specific keywords, it will show up in Google search results. It’s so much easier to network when other people are the ones reaching out!

Expanding your professional circle is a lot easier than most people think. Put yourself out there, show up at events, and let your best qualities shine. As long as you keep in regular contact with the valuable people you meet, the right doors are bound to open for you.

About the Author 

Sienna Walker

Sienna Walker is an avid career and business blogger, often writing about unorthodox and unique ways for entrepreneurs to promote themselves and grow their businesses. Privately, Sienna is a huge fan of self-improvement and might often be found watching motivational videos on YouTube. Freel free to visit her Twitter @SiennaWalkerS and say “hello”.

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