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How to Properly Build Your Professional Network

 

As we advance our careers over the years, we build up friendships and different relationships with various types of people.  One of these very vital networks we build is our professional network.  These are not necessarily friendships, but instead people whom are typically supervisors or even heads of other departments who have seen your work ethics and skills over time and whom you equally respect and admire. These people build your professional network, they are the ones that when you are looking to make a change in your field, who you call upon for advice, or even references, when necessary. Below are some examples of the type of Professionals you would benefit most from having within your Professional Network.

 

College Professors

 

These can serve as references and also valued advisors in advancement opportunities in your career.  You will want to find a Professor whom you admire and who would know your best skill sets.  These are usually seasoned professionals that have spent decades in their chosen field and they know the ins and outs of how things really work, not just what the books tell you. Be sure to choose someone who spent a decent amount of time in the specialty or field you wish to pursue for your career, i.e. Family Medicine or Psychiatry.  This contact will prove to be more valuable than you realize because they not only can advise you on what to do or not to do, but they themselves already have their own Professional Network they have built over the years, by staying in touch with them and keeping them updated on your professional advances, their network by extension becomes part of your network.

 

Supervisors within Your Department

 

We don’t always get along with Supervisors on a friendship level, but we always have to respect them on the premise that they have worked hard and earned the position they are in. They have paid their dues and have worked their way up the proverbial ladder. They know how their department runs smoothly and they know how you work. They will prove to be one of your more valuable references in the future, even after moving onto a new position, you will want to do your best to keep that line of communication open, therefore when the opportunity arises, you have someone who can attest to your work ethic and reliability, along with your greatest strengths in your given field.

 

Supervisors from a Different Department

 

This will be a good contact to have because they will know you on a different level than a direct Supervisor.  This person will have knowledge of your hard work and talents from an “outsider” perspective. This particular contact will be beneficial as an additional reference to your professional character as well as your work ethic, they will not know your specific skills per se, however if they have taken the time to get to know you, then you have caught their eye and have proven your value within the Organization.

Lateral Colleague

 

This person could be a friend in the workplace, or just another colleague with which you work on a day to day basis.  This person is more likely to be a friend than the other categories, due to the direct proximity you have with them, and the fact that you are professional “equals”.  You are working your way up together, and they know that you are reliable and that they can count on you on a professional level and they can also attest to your character and moral values as well.  This is the person you most likely share things with and you will have the closest bond with.  This person will serve multiple skills, they will help decrease your stress on a daily basis, they will be able to provide a quality reference based on your day to day accomplishments and skill sets, and they will also share their Professional Network as it grows with you, and this will then help your network grow.

 

Multiple people can fall within more than one of these categories, or as you all move ahead in your careers, you may find that they move up through the categories, someone who once was a Lateral Colleague could soon become a Supervisor and be able to offer a reference from a different perspective.  Most importantly, you want to keep all lines of communications with anyone you meet and work with in order to continue to build your professional network. This network will prove most beneficial as you move forward in your career,  Nowadays there are so many different ways to keep up this professional network, one of the easiest and most widely used is LinkedIn. This allows you to not only keep in touch with those current or new contacts, but it can help to reach out to someone from your past whom you wish to reconnect with professionally.