March 31, 2015

Developing a good professional network was one of the main themes I talked about last week to the students of The Iron Yard. So how does one go about consistently growing their own network? I'll detail out three things here that help me nourish those relationships.

  1. Lead by example
  2. One on one time
  3. Having a positive attitude

These all may sound like common sense but when you really dig into them, it's hard to maintain these three items every moment of the day. Let's start with the first one:

Lead by example

At Sputnik, I like to write down or verbally acknowledge things we can do to improve our process. I'll help lead discussions at our Monday morning meetings and write in our blog.

For my freelance work, if I'm working remotely with a team, I'll take the initiative to work on something I think will make the project better instead of waiting for someone to give direction. It's important to make sure your not spending time on something while neglecting pertinent work. For example, if I'm working on, say, a task to build a new set of forms for a new feature roll out, I'll take the time to document and categorize form patterns for the entire app while getting the pertinent work done. This is easy to do and won't leave your director wondering if your time was well spent.

I've written briefly about showing your work in pubic and I still think this is a big one. There's nothing more valuable than show and tell for your followers. Tell them what you're up to. What's your latest thinking as it pertains to your specific skill set? There is always something to share. Please share your work. If you solved a problem, big or small, give your network the insight.

One on one time

Do yourself a favor and get some one on one time with your network. When I was just starting out in the industry, I had no idea how to get freelance gigs and make money. I found a local freelance WordPress consultant and invited him out to lunch. Turns out that lunch was one of the most valuable things I've ever done in my career. After a short hour talking with Bill Erickson about how he gets clients, I was getting clients from him and soon enough had my own clients to choose from. Knowing many people and sharing ideas is extremely important and will keep you from getting complacent. Be nice and be a good listener.

Having a positive attitude

I'll admit, I struggle with my perceived positivity. I'm actually a very positive person but I'm also very sarcastic, self-deprecating, and down right vulgar at times. It's my particular dark sense of humor that gets me in trouble and I could possibly come across as negative. I have to watch myself with this. But with that being said, I think it's important to make others feel like they're being listened to. Really show genuine interest and compassion when you interact with people. It goes a long way.

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