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5 ways to maximize your personal network

Don't underestimate the power of your friends and family when you're into networking.
By Mike Kafka |

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This column is part of a series formed from a partnership between Entrepreneur and NFL Players Inc. Click here to see the other columns."

Networking is one of the most important ways to build your professional capital and take your next step in business. Over the years, you’ll learn how a solid network is integral to strategically positioning yourself and your company for future success. Maximize your potential and cultivate your network with these five tips.

 

1. Identify your influencers.

 

While filtering through your personal network, start by identifying your core contacts, people you know personally and are naturally willing to help. These are your soldiers. They should fully understand what you are doing and your end goal. While building a marketing campaign for example, personally contacting 30 of your closest friends and family is enough to help spread the buzz about a project. Ask them to forward emails, post pictures and tweet until their fingers fell off. It works!

 

Related: 4 ways to get influencers to spread your brand's message

 

 

2. Capitalize on external connections.

 

Now that you have identified your influencers, it’s time to tap into your external networks. Start looking into mutual friends, alumni networks and any other degrees of separation that could get you a simple introduction, thus creating your own network.

 

 

3. Step out of your comfort zone.

This might be the most important facet of maximizing your network. Without it, you will not be able to grow your network into a self-sustaining asset. Don’t be afraid to dive in amazing and totally new experiences! You’ll meet thousands of people from conferences and talks that could help you expand your business network.

 

Related: Your comfort zone is killing your success

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4. Ask how you can help them.

 

Don't make the mistake of thinking only about your own personal interest or agenda when networking. The most effective networking method is to ask what you can do for others, not what others can do for you. The connections you make, either business or personal, are more likely to help you in the future if you helped them in the past.

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5. Always follow up.

There is no better way to close a connection than a simple email or hand-written note. Be impeccable with your word. For example, if you tell someone that you are going to reach out to him or her, do it. This will reiterate your commitment to the connection and allow for easier transitions in to future conversations.

 

Related: How to be remarkable at following up

 

Copyright © 2015 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com . Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editor. 

Photos from Flickr (Thomas Hawk and Thomas Hawk

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