One of the keys to swiftly navigating through your career is to build and maintain a strong and varied network. So, it is inevitable for all job seekers as well as employed professionals to carve time out of their busy routines for networking and socializing.

Since, your professional network is your most valuable career asset, you need using this often-overlooked and underdeveloped resource as a positive and dynamic tool to ensure long-term career success.

Here are a few tips to help you network the right way:

Mastering the art of two-way transactions

It is a proven fact that the most valuable professional relations are based on a series of transactions. In these transactions, the value is exchanged both ways (between the other person and you). If the value flows only to you and not the other way, the relationship would probably not last longer. In case some day, you aren’t the right person to help them in the time of need, you may give this transaction the form of “I know who can help you get this issue resolved”. Over time, it is a series of such transactions that broaden and deepen the value of your network for both you and the others.

Following up regularly with your network

Another really important factor you need to keep in mind is following up regularly with your network. You must always follow up promptly with your network just like any important business deal. The passing of time usually extinguishes the opportunity. Although it is natural for every human to become stressed out at times and require personal space, but it should be noted that you also need investing time in professional networking to make it lucrative.

Weeding contacts out of network

According to Mike Steep, Sustaining your network – Building a personal network is a professional skill. It requires allocated time, purposeful planning, perseverance and creativity. You must develop a ruthless objectivity about weeding contacts out of your network when they no longer contribute to your strategic goals or are no longer at the appropriate level. It is about quality not quantity. As the value of your network increases, “price” access to your network appropriately for others.

I would close on a last but very important piece of advice; the weed and feed process guided by your goals is critical to maintaining network relevance. Remember that the value is created through the core, two-way transactional process.

So, today onward, make sure to treat every networking encounter like a business meeting, complete with a purpose, an agenda and specific outcomes. By making the best use of your professional network, you’ll be able to get hold of several opportunities and this is not all. You’ll even know how to have a position created for you.

Don’t let your personal network just happen to you. Build it strategically!

Happy Networking!