What Real Networking Can Do for You

3-minute read

One more negative consequence of the pandemic is shrinking professional networks — within organizations and the wellness industry. Unable to rub elbows at the office or industry events meant the normal attrition we all experience of people leaving our life wasn’t replaced with new connections.

Why it matters

Over the course of a career, a robust, engaged network can make a huge difference in your accomplishments, income, and satisfaction. Wellness pros who have strong in-house relationships are taken more seriously than those without. These bonds can affect your budget, influence staff, and make the difference between sustaining or shrinking when times are lean.

Maintaining and expanding industry relationships can help you with everything from professional development to evaluating service providers to finding fresh talent and new career opportunities.

How to begin (again)

It’s worth the effort to keep nurturing existing alliances and — especially in the work from home/anywhere era — the extra effort of building new ones. If you’ve let your networking muscles atrophy the last couple years, here are a few ideas to strengthen them:

  • Start with those you know. Make a list of dormant ties — people you’ve not interacted with in a while but would like to. There doesn’t have to be a reason more than “Hey, we haven’t talked in a while; would love to catch up when you have a few minutes.” Ideally you can meet in person but if not, an old-fashioned phone call will do.
  • Meet a Zoomer in real life. If new people you’ve met on virtual platforms during the pandemic are in your locale, ask for a face to face. If not, compare schedules and try to connect at the next conference or while traveling.
  • Attend professional networking events. For introverts, these were difficult before COVID and may be even more so now. If you’re inclined to look for an escape route when introduced to someone new, try to remember this isn’t a performance… first impressions don’t count for much. Smile a lot, be an active listener, ask questions, and simply try to enjoy the experience.
  • Connect with connectors. We all know colleagues who often ask do you know this or that person? If you find yourself saying no, or I know the name but I don’t think we’ve met, ask for an introduction: “Our mutual friend suggested I get to know you… do you have a few minutes to talk?”
  • Become a fanatical connector. Whenever you have the opportunity, offer to introduce someone new to a colleague. Bringing people together strengthens your network quality and value as others reciprocate over time.

We’ve a saying at HES: The best wellness programs run on energy. The main ingredient in nudging a population toward health is a dynamic, energetic team with a shared vision of well-being. Similarly, cultivating a rich professional network requires focused energy and a commitment to give without the expectation of anything in return.

For more ideas read our post There’s Work in Networking.

 

Making the Most of LinkedIn

A treasure trove for making connections, LinkedIn allows you to amass a network of 1000+ pretty easily. But developing meaningful professional relationships — true networking —requires effort beyond using the software. Suggestions:

  • Be strategic. Develop criteria for why you want to meet, beyond just being in wellness, for the most beneficial connections.
  • Ask, don’t sell. “I want to connect because ______________. Would you have 20 minutes this week or next for a conversation?” Get it out in the first few seconds; don’t make them wade through a speech to understand what you want.
  • Try to meet in person at a public location. If that’s not practical, ask their preference — and offer to send a calendar invite.
  • Respect their time. If you set it for 20 minutes don’t run over without each agreeing to continue.
  • Follow up with something worthwhile. Be alert for anything in the conversation you can mention in your prompt email — a related article, study, survey results, introductions to colleagues, etc.

 

 

Dean WitherspoonDean Witherspoon
Chief collaborator, nudger, tinkerer; leads the most inventive team creating well-being and sustainable living programs. Reach out if you’d like to talk about employee well-being, emotional fitness, or eco-friendly living.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.

Menu