Networking is a key component to professional success. A solid network helps you expand your social avenues, so you can meet people who have the potential to help you grow professionally and gain knowledge in your career. As you advance in your career, you will be capable of returning the favor of providing experience and connections in your chosen industry. Discover how to build a network that will last and be the most productive.

Finding Individuals for Networking

Outside of your office, the best place to find individuals to network with is at industry-related events. These can be conferences or meet-ups that are related to your industry, such as professional conferences, annual company meetings or after-hours gatherings. Every time you attend an industry-related event, be prepared to network. You never know when you will meet a potential business partner or possible client.

LinkedIn is another hot place for networking, as discussed in CIO. Don’t disregard holiday parties or social gatherings, such as a friend’s birthday party or a neighborhood barbeque. You can expand your network to include fringe networkers who can help spread the word about who you are and what you can offer to their friends, further expanding your network.

Cultivating Relationships in a Network

Whether you are cultivating a relationship with someone in your network or your best friend, the same principles apply. If you say you are going to call, visit or send information to someone in your network, then be sure to follow through. Otherwise, you risk being seen as untrustworthily and unreliable. If you are constantly flaking out on those in your network, they will feel you aren’t professional or committed enough. Who wants to recommend a colleague who never shows up on time or returns a phone call? Treat those in your network with respect, and you will develop trust that helps you to grow a strong and respectful network.

An ever-expanding network of professionals will help you break into the next level in your career. Take the time to establish and maintain your network for the best benefit.