How to Expand Your Professional Network

Reviewed: July 02, 2015
By FinanceWeb

In the brick and mortar world, one can expand a professional network in many ways. They include volunteering, joining groups like alumni associations, and hosting or attending social business functions.

Trade Associations

Trade associations depend significantly on gaining large numbers of members and engaging them to keep them active. There are many ways to define a business or profession, and some trade associations are quite broad such as women business owners, or businesses located in a geographic area. Within trade associations, one can find opportunities to specialize or expand the zone of activity. They offer committees and projects in which one can get involved. Some trade association committees perform valuable, public functions such as certification of education and training standards.

Advocacy Groups

A favorite way to expand a professional network is to join an advocacy group that in part depends on a robust network. This can be a political group, a non-government organization, or a social cause. These groups can do two important things. First it can connect with activists that likely have large networks, and second, it can take one to a broader professional circle; a circle that is consistent but wider than one’s professional area.

Social Media Expands the Network

Social media is an excellent vehicle for expanding a professional network. It is a global platform for participation and expression, and one can establish a presence that interacts with other professionals. It can also define one as a source of authority, and connect with professionals with similar interests.

Presence on Social Media

Social Media offers an unparalleled opportunity to expand a professional network. One can use any or all of the popular platforms and use various types of media such as photo and graphic arts, digital or printed messages, and multimedia. A presence on social media opens a portal for anyone to find interesting ideas, content, and activities in one’s professional portfolio.

Interact on Social Media

Once one makes a social media presence, one can interact with other professionals. An excellent method is to blog or post information in some easy to digest form. One can engage websites offered by other professionals. Many professionals simply post information or items that spur interest. These mostly neutral themes can generate an audience and a following. They can improve name recognition and create a positive association.

Establish a Source of Authority

When blogging or offering content, one can use the website to establish a source of authority. This type of content is meant to persuade visitors that one has information and know-how that readers can use. In a professional field, this kind of social media presence carries many benefits. Social media can generate word of mouth advertising and create a sort of buzz effect of spreading professional recognition through reader conversations.

Join Groups with Similar Interests

Social media offers thousands of groups, and some are quite large. One can join many groups and, as time and resources permit, one can become active in these groups. By interacting with members of groups with similar interests, one can extend acquaintances and develop common areas. This is also an effective way to extend one’s professional range; some groups offer tutorials and other information that one can use to add knowledge.

Improve Resources and Professional Connections

Social media can facilitate contacts and relationships with people with complementary talents and abilities. An important part of networking for business purposes is to add resources. In any field, there are areas that one can find useful that are outside of an area of expertise or experience. For example, a translator might add contacts that offer services in additional languages. This is an excellent example of professional contacts that have complementary resources. Professionals frequently form teams for contract engagements, projects, and research. Complementary skill sets are an important ingredient for team building.