tips for growing your professional network from SungevityWho do companies hire and why? Employers tend to hire people that fall into one of these three categories: people they know, people they like or people they feel they can trust! That’s one reason why growing your professional network is important at any stage of your career. You never know when you’ll need to open new doors.

If you’re saying to yourself, “Ugh, I’m so bad at networking,” then we have good news for you: cultivating your network is a learned skill.

You can improve your networking skills by learning from others’ experiences and practicing.

Here are my suggestions on how to grow, cultivate and solidify your professional network:

  1. It’s not always about what you know, it’s about who you know. Make your presence noticeable. Shake hands, kiss babies, introduce yourself to people you don’t know. Mingle at events and step outside your comfort zone.
  2. You can also learn a lot from people in your professional network that have solid experience and expertise. Ask questions, ask for advice, ask for other professionals’ opinions.
  3. Build a rock solid reputation as a professional in the work place. Develop a reputation for being a solid, dependable worker who under-promises and over delivers. Always deliver quality work, dress professionally, communicate effectively (verbally and in email), volunteer to take on special projects at work, never burn a bridge with an employer. The workplace is your place to shine. Your co-workers, peers, superiors and subordinates definitely take notice. Be the employee that people want to work with now and in the future.
  4. Stay in touch with former co-workers or managers. Professionals that you have worked with could open doors for you in the future. Don’t lose touch with them. They can also provide a reference should you need one in the future.
  5. Create your own personal brand awareness in the employment marketplace. Meet people and be visible in the local community. Connect with recruiters you cross paths with and join relevant groups on LinkedIn. Market yourself!
  6. Go to professional seminars and networking events and meet people. These seminars bring professionals together that typically that share the same interests, goals and professional experience. They are a great place to learn something while increasing your chances of making valuable connections.
  7. Value the long-term strategy. Networking should be very intentional and proactively approached. Stay in touch with people, don’t just exchange business cards. You are laying the groundwork for the future.
  8. Be a good listener. Take a real, genuine interest in what people have to say, get to know them. Hopefully they will get to know you, too. People love to talk about themselves and listening can be a very valuable tool and asset in networking.
  9. Ask interesting questions. Excellent questions can cause people to take notice of who you are.
  10. Be helpful. Share your ideas and expertise. This can help to strengthen and improve your own personal network too. As a rule, most people like to help other people!
  11. Work both up and down the corporate ladder. Most people primarily network within their peer group, but it can be even more valuable to step outside of your comfort zone and reach out to people who are further along in their career as well as those that are more junior than you.
  12. Use LinkedIn. Develop a strong profile and build on it purposefully each month.

At Sungevity, we also know there is a tremendous benefit in networking. We partner with many non-profit organizations to engage their networks with powerful solar solutions while helping them raise funds to support their valuable work. We see the tremendous value in working with organizations like the Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, Cliff Bar, Clean Water Action, Clean Water Fund, Credo and many more. Check out our www.sungevity.org website to learn more about our Sungevity Community and our partnerships.

I always say that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Help prepare yourself for your next opportunity – when you’re happily, gainfully employed – and improve your own luck. You never know when you might need it.

To view career opportunities at Sungevity please visit www.sungevity.com/shine to learn more.

Posted by Laura Hunko

Laura Hunko is a Senior Recruiting Manager at Sungevity, and manages all aspects of field recruiting and talent acquisition on the East Coast. Laura is married, has a grown daughter and son and lives at home in northern New Jersey with her two 5-month-old sibling puppies, Max and Marley.