If you’re like most professionals, you likely feel pressed for time almost every day. You may be trying to juggle work obligations with home responsibilities, and may even be trying to advance your education too. So, with so much going on, how are you supposed to make time to network, too?
While most people understand that your network is critical for your career, that doesn’t mean it is easy to find the time for the associated activities. Luckily, there are mechanisms for squeezing in networking tasks into even the busiest of schedules. Here are some techniques that you can start using today.
Start with the Small Stuff
When most professionals think of networking, they imagine large-scale conferences, meetings, and trade shows that take hours out of their day. While these events can be highly effective networking opportunities, they aren’t the only way to get the job done.
Instead of focusing on these large gatherings, try to start with something smaller that more easily integrates into your day-to-day schedule. For example, sending a message online to others working in the field typically only takes a few minutes, making it easy to fit into your breaks or lunch. You can also comment on social media posts of other professionals, helping you to create a connection and support their efforts.
Over time, small activities do add up, so consider using this approach to maximize the impact of your efforts in just minutes a day instead of blocking out solid hours.
See Everything as a Networking Opportunity
Sometimes, a simple shift in perspective is all it takes to fit more networking into your life. For example, spending time at gatherings with friends and family can actually be effective for networking, especially if other professionals will be in attendance. This can help you forge stronger relationships that can benefit you later and may even lead to new opportunities you would have otherwise missed.
Additionally, casual encounters can actually be used for networking. Anything from grabbing a cup of coffee at a local café or being in an elevator with other professionals can be excellent opportunities for striking up conversations with new contacts. So, the next time you end up standing around with other people, consider saying “hello.” You’ll never know what these people do for a living unless you ask, so don’t be afraid to reach out whenever the chance arises.
Make It a Habit
As you begin to identify small ways that allow you to network with greater ease, make sure to dedicate yourself to those activities. By doing simple things every day, you make networking a natural part of your life as well as a more manageable task. And, once the patterns are established, keeping it up over the long-term becomes a breeze.