How to Productively Create & Optimize Your Professional Network

Glenn E. Fleming, MD, MPH, Contributor, MarketHive

According to Wikipedia, a professional network service (also known as a  professional network) is a type of social network service that is focused solely on interactions and relationships of a business nature rather than including personal, non-business interactions.

The following are suggestions for creating a more productive, professional network:

1. Utilize a fresh pair of eyes:

When working on a project, consider finding someone from a department/discipline, etc. to take a look.   Having the objective opinion from someone outside your area of expertise may be just what’s needed in order to uncover issues that may have otherwise gone overlooked. 

If the project involves a product to be employed by a certain demographic, then it would probably be a great idea to make sure that you’ve acquired the objective opinions of individuals from that group, especially if you (the project manager) don’t adequately represent that demographic).

2.  Be open to working on projects (& working with people) outside your realm of expertise (or department):

Volunteering to assist others from other departments, sectors, etc will yield an opportunity to better understand the perspectives of others who are not within your area of expertise or department.  This will not only provide a forum for additional professional engagement outside your usual professional network, but also allow for a non-biased opinion on a particular issue within the project.

3.  Consider planning an informal gathering outside the workplace:

For example, you could invite a colleague for coffee or brunch, explaining your interest in projects they may have done in the past or are currently working on.  Since this is an informal meeting/gathering, this would also be a great time to determine any common interests outside the workplace. 

The key here is finding the balance between professional and personal matters during the interaction.  It would also probably be best to limit any informal gatherings to daytime hours.

Establishing rapport with specific objectives in mind such as learning more about the company and discussing commonalities outside the workplace will likely make it even easier to eventually work on a project with that person or to simply learn more about opportunities for growth within the company.

4.  Join a professional organization that’s reflective of your industry

This strategy is beneficial in several ways including extending your professional sphere of influence and establishing rapport with other likeminded individuals (professionally and/or personally).  Essentially, it is one of the easiest ways to network while looking for opportunities to advance your career.

In my industry of healthcare, I am a member of several professional societies including the National Medical Association, Medical Society of Georgia, and the American Board of Internal Medicine, to name a few.

5.  Try to make yourself available to assist others when asked:

Obviously, this is easier said than done and there can be a fine line between feeling needed and feeling abused.  With that said, this is still a great way to further establish rapport with colleagues in and outside your department or professional background.   It is a great way to show that you are reliable but be sure to not overextend yourself.  Do what feels comfortable and reasonable.

Your comments are always welcomed!  Did I miss anything?  Please feel free to share.

L Basheer (LB) Hasan – TheGoldServants.Com