Building Your Network into a Powerhouse

Once, college graduates entering in the workforce could expect to work for one—or perhaps two—employers their entire careers. A steady salary, the opportunity for advancement, and the security of a pension in retirement kept professionals with the same company for decades.

Today, as you already know, this stability and loyalty is no longer the reality. Professionals, especially those who are ‘career hungry,’ seek faster advancement than (in many cases) their companies can offer. And with the recessions and downturns of the last two decades—as well as the rapid pace of disruption—employers can in many cases no longer offer the same kind of career-long guarantees.

As a result of these pressures, the average employee tenure per job is about four to seven years, depending on when you entered the workforce. Over a 40+ year career, this reality can mean many job changes. When it comes to searching for your next role, or looking quickly if you’ve been laid off, your network is essential.

That’s why focusing on building your network into a powerhouse is a great way to ensure it serves you well when it’s time for a new opportunity. Here are three ways to do it.

#1. Build and nurture a network of profession-relevant contacts

The old adage “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” rings true. A powerhouse network is filled with profession-relevant contacts who can help connect you to people and opportunities  to fit what you’re looking for.

As you build your network, you should look to connect with people who:

  • Have the same title and who work in industries, markets, geographic areas, or for companies you may also want to work for
  • Head up other departments in your organization, or work for you current vendors
  • Have titles one, two, or three levels above yours, as these are often the people who will hire you in the future as they stay ahead of you throughout their careers

#2. Know how to use LinkedIn to your advantage.  

Creating a polished profile on LinkedIn is important. Use a professional-looking headshot and make sure it’s cropped well—no casual selfies here. Choose a compelling descriptor and use the Summary section to connect the dots in your professional experience in a fresh way.

Making the most of LinkedIn goes beyond your profile, though. Join groups with professional interests  matching yours and be sure to follow companies and brands who you admire or may even want to work for. And be active in posting content: choose relevant articles from credible sources for sharing or reposting, with a bit of thoughtful analysis or perspective from you.   

#3. Join and be active in membership organizations or professional associations.

There may be no better way to meet people who share common professional interests and experience than through membership in a professional association. Networking is built in to your membership—both in-person at events and digitally, through organizations’ social media presence and membership communities.

Of course, good networking is a two-way street. Accept invitations and connections from those more junior to you as you advance. Be sure to thank your connections early and often and sustain networking throughout your career. If you do, you’ll build a network with a wide sphere of influence to enhance and advance your career.  Since 1939, DallasHR has served Dallas-area HR professionals, helping them advance their careers and build their networks through education, events, and support. With more than 2,200 engaged members, DallasHR is the nation’s third-largest affiliate chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). DallasHR powers The HRSouthwest Conference, the official State of Text SHRM Conference and—with 2,300 annual attendees, speakers, and exhibitors— one of the largest regional human resources events in the US.