Building a strong professional network is critical to career success in the banking and finance fields. Not only will your network provide you with resources and information about industry happenings, but they can also connect you to job opportunities that aren’t publicly advertised. But the important question is, how do you build a strong professional network in the banking sector?
To help you on your journey to banking career glory, here are some tips to get your network in shape.
Meet, Greet, and Mingle
The first step to expanding your network is to meet new people working in the banking and financial industry. One easy way to get started is to attend industry events and join professional associations, like the American Bankers Association. Functions that are created solely for people working in your employment sector provide a high level of access to professionals from a variety of local businesses and may give you a chance to connect with someone who can help you achieve your goals.
Give First, Second, and Third
A professional network is built on give-and-take relationships. While it is tempting to start by asking for what you want, it is more effective to start by giving. Be a point of value in the relationship by maintaining a helpful attitude.
Now, you don’t have to over-extend yourself to provide value. You can begin with simple actions like forwarding them an article that is particularly relevant to their position or company (such as a piece from sites like this one), or invite them to attend a networking event with you to help build a rapport.
Focus on finding common ground and cultivating mutual respect. As the relationship grows, you may find the person is willing to give you the information or job tips you want without even having to ask. And, if you do have to ask, they will be more receptive to your request.
If you are exercising the spirit of giving, and you make a promise to someone in your network, make sure you follow through. Whether it is something small, like getting them the contact information of your favorite supply vendor, or something big, like the name of a hiring manager for an open position, failing to do what you said you would do will have consequences. Would you recommend someone for a position who didn’t remember to follow through on a promise they made? If your answer is no, don’t be surprised that other people would feel the same way.
Stay in Touch
Creating a strong network doesn’t stop once you meet enough people. You need to keep in contact to help the relationships strength over time. This is another area where forwarding an interesting article can help keep the connection alive. If you connect over a social network, like LinkedIn, take the time to read any posts or links they provide that relate to the industry and leave a short, relevant, and sincere comment.
Small gestures can add up, and they normally only take a few minutes of your time.
Ask for Introductions
When you have a strong relationship with someone in your network, and you know they are connected to someone you would like to meet, ask for an introduction. This approach works best when you want to meet the person, but you don’t necessarily have an ulterior motive (aside from meeting them). If your current network can connect you to their network, then you might find your network growing faster than you can imagine.
Rinse and Repeat
Maintaining a network requires frequent attention and work. Luckily, the techniques needed to grow your network the first time can be repeated as necessary. Over time, your network will expand to include more individuals and can result in new opportunities. If you have serious goals for your baking career, working on your network is definitely worth the effort.