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Ten Ways to Build and Maintain Your Professional Network

Having a strong personal Brand requires being connected to a network of resources for mutual development and growth.   We achieve our greatest success through our relationships with others.  That's why it is critical to build and maintain your network.  But approach is everything.  If you build your network with the goal of supporting others, you will be far more successful than if your objectives are solely to satisfy your own objectives.  Your network is a valuable component of your personal Brand; here are five ways to build and a strong network.

1. Speak.
Take every opportunity to speak about your business - your passion.  This means everything from talking about what you do with the local shop keeper to making presentations to large groups.  People with whom your message resonates will connect with you and quickly become a part of your network.  

2. Participate.
Join professional organizations.  It is better to belong to fewer organizations and take an active role in them then to belong to many with organizations with superficial connections to the membership.  Truly participating allows you to really get to know people and thereby supports your desire to build professional relationships with them.

3. Publish.
Writing articles and e-articles is a great way to communicate your passion.  Take some time to write a few articles related to your goals/interests that will provide value to the readers.  Identify your ideal publications and take a look at all the e-zines that accept article submissions.  Readers of your articles will seek you out and become part of your network.

4. Create.
If there isn't an organization that fits with your objectives, create one.  It can be a physical organization or a virtual one.  Being the founder of the organization gives you instant credibility with your entire membership and gives you opportunity to define and mold it.

5. Volunteer.
Volunteering is a great way to build professional relationships while giving back to the community.  Take a volunteer position that allows you to use your skills and express your passion.  Your network will grow along with your sense of accomplishment.

To be  truly successful at networking, you need to be continuously making new connections while at the same time nurturing the relationships you have.  Remember, if you take the attitude that it is about you, you will be less successful in retaining your network.  But if you treat your network as a group of people you serve and support, your experience will be much more positive and you will attract what you need to be successful.  Here are five ways to keep your network going.

1. Write.
Create a newsletter or e-zine as a source of regular communication with your network.  Include articles that are an easy read and provide value to the readership.  Keep an updated mailing list to ensure that your newsletter reaches your entire audience.

2. Express.
Express thanks, congratulations and fond wishes. Remember to send birthday cards, holiday cards, thank you cards, etc.  This is a great way to show the members of your network you care while keeping a regular dialog with them.

3. Update.
Every time there is a change to your organization, your work status or your contact details, broadcast it.  Use these life changes as opportunities to remind your network that you are there.  

4. Telephone.
Mass media like e-mail and newsletters are great for consistent communication.  But enduring business relationships require much more.  One way to stay in touch and build stronger bonds with your network is to commit to at least one call a week.  These are people you selected, you should enjoy them.  So take the 15 minutes to half an hour it takes each week to keep the network alive.

5. Socialize.
A great way to build and nurture your network and help people build theirs is to host an event.  This can be a random event at your house or a recurring event at a chosen meeting place.  This will provide an informal way to get together and connect the members of your network with each other.  If each member brings a member of their network, it will also help to significantly expand yours.

> learn about the Exude Phase of the Reach 1-2-3 Success! Personal Branding Process

> take our networking quiz and see just how good a networker you are.

> join the club - the Reach Branding Club - and start networking with like-minded professionals and entrepreneurs

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