First time poster so I hope I get this right...

I've been writing my 2016 objectives at work and one of the things I'm very keen to work on this year is my professional network. I work in Operational Risk so my job involves meeting a wide variety of people from around the business, so I don't suffer from a lack of exposure, more that I'm not sure how to capitalize on this.

Now I'm aware that colleagues aren't vending machine that you put time coins into and useful contacts fall out of, that isn't my problem. I'm not sure of the best way to nurture and develop these contacts in a business environment - does that make sense?

A bit more about my role:

  • It's office based and I'm part of a team (I work well with these people because I sit with them every day, my question is more about the wider business, people I don't see regularly).

  • I'm based in Manchester and travel to the London office once or twice a month

  • I've been with the company close to three years but have only been in my current role for 6 months. Prior to that I worked as a business analyst and didn't really come into contact with many people.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

  • Are there networking events for people in your field? Trade shows? Seminars? Lunch-And-Learns? Product or service demonstrations? Try to look outside your normal box and find somewhere that people you want to network with meet. – Ron Beyer Mar 8 '16 at 15:43
  • Those are good suggestions. There are definitely events where I can meet people, and I make an effort to attend them. My issue is more than I'm not good at following up on those initial meetings. If I make a friend outside of work it's easy - add on facebook, like and comment, chat about shared interests. With work contacts, I'm less sure how to do that. – Maladictus Mar 8 '16 at 16:05
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    Why not ask your colleagues how you could help them? They can then talk about projects they are working on and get involved with them, even at a high level. – user29055 Mar 8 '16 at 17:14
  • LinkedIn = Facebook for work. Use a smartphone to set reminders immediately after you meet somebody. And you make work relationships the same way you make friends, they just happen to be in your field. – Ron Beyer Mar 8 '16 at 18:20

I hope I have interpreted your question right.

If your Job includes meeting people from your business, that's good. Networking is not about becoming close friends, it is more like building an address book. Talk to the people you are meeting and ask them about what they do (most people like to talk about themselves). Maybe exchange business cards, or just memorize the person. Try to get information from as much fellow businesspeople as you can. Tell them about yourself in exchange. If you don't meet as much people (or wrong ones) in your daily business life, go on trade shows or other events targeted at networking in your part of business.

This is a longtime process. If you meet one of your former contacts again, do smalltalk, be visible, update them about you and vice versa. The whole point is that they should be able remember you.

If everything works out ideally, soon you will have a full address book / spreadsheet / customer management program full of contacts. And this is basically all it takes. The people you have met don't need to be your friends. They just need to know who you are. If they have a problem/need info from your field, they will remember you and call you. The same applies to you. Problem? look it up in your address book. Giving and taking favours is what the network is for.

This keeps on running smoothly as long the other guys/girls don't forget you. So talking briefly once and calling the guy 10 years later won't work. A network needs constant care.

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  • That is really helpful, that's the perspective I was looking for! Thank you very much – Maladictus Mar 9 '16 at 9:10

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