Time-Saving Networking Strategies for Busy People

 

No time to network? No problem! These tips are effective and require no more than a few minutes.

If you've been in the professional world for a while, you undoubtedly know that networking is an essential part of career success. After all, career opportunities don't just appear out of nowhere; they usually come from the people who know, like and trust you (i.e., your network). Whether you're looking for a new gig, hoping to earn a promotion or planning a major career transition, networking can certainly boost your chances of success.

As a business activity, networking involves deepening existing connections and creating new ones. It also involves time – something most professionals don't have to spare. Getting out there, meeting new people, engaging in meaningful conversations – these things can be grueling, especially when you already have a busy life. Networking is also an easy task to put off because it takes awhile to experience the true benefits. Without instant gratification, it can be hard to see the return on investment.

Rest assured: Networking is an investment worth making and, contrary to popular belief, you don't have to commit an extraordinary amount of time to the process. There are lots of ways to expand and deepen your network in only a matter of minutes. If you're short on time, try these strategies.

Most people think networking requires going to an event of some sort. They picture a room full of strangers tossing business cards at one another. Surely, such events do exist. But they aren't necessarily the most effective use of time.

Instead, try going internal with your networking. Wherever you currently work, you're likely surrounded by people, all of whom can become trusted contacts in your network. Too often, we keep our heads down in the workplace and only interact with our immediate colleagues. In doing so, we cut ourselves off from many potential connections.

Look around your workplace and you'll probably see a lot of networking opportunities right in front of you. Get to know new folks by striking up conversations with people in different departments. Ask them what they do and what they're working on. If you show interest in getting to know them, most people will reciprocate. You can do this over lunch or a cup of coffee in the break room or while riding the elevator together. It takes no extra time on your part!

You can also do really simple things to deepen your existing relationships in the workplace. For example, when someone earns a promotion or achieves something especially exciting, stop by their desk and offer your congratulations. When you learn a cool new time-saving trick, send an email to people whom you think it would benefit. These kinds of small gestures help people who already know you to like and trust you even more.

Leverage Your Existing Activities

Instead of adding networking activities to your already full plate, why not use your existing activities for networking purposes? Whether you're engaged in social events with friends, community volunteer work, activities with your religious group or anything else, if you're interacting with people, you can (technically speaking) network.

While it might sound odd, it's really not. All you have to do is talk to people about their professional pursuits and share your own. You may find you have more in common than you ever knew. Plus, work conversation is easy for most people.

 

Additionally, in all likelihood, you probably already participate in a variety of non-work, professionally-oriented activities, such as professional development classes. If you have any kind of professional certification or license that requires continuing education, opt to take these courses in person rather than online. You'll spend the same amount of time learning, but you'll be able to network while you're there.

Consolidate Social Media

If you're using social media as a professional networking tool, you almost certainly know how time-consuming it can be. You jump from Facebook to Twitter to LinkedIn to Instagram, and before you know it, you've fallen down a rabbit hole. Hours have gone by and now you're watching cat videos on YouTube wondering how you got here.

Don't try to keep up with all your different accounts separately. Instead, manage them all in one place with a central tool, such as Hootsuite. Using one single dashboard, you can see all your social media activity and engage directly from there, rather than get sucked into the endless vortex of each individual platform.

Nearly every professional feels the strain of "too much to do and not enough time." If that describes you, take heed: You're in good company! But it doesn't mean you have to let your networking efforts fall by the wayside. You don't need to set aside hours for these activities. Small, consistent investments of time and energy can yield enormous dividends.

By: Chrissy Scivicque

Source: money.usnews.com/