I was beyond excited to have been offered an amazing job opportunity, enabling me to transfer from London to New York three years ago.
The big move went smoothly with everything falling into place. I’d even managed to dodge Hurricane Sandy by a couple of days. There was just one obstacle to overcome: how was I going to build my professional network all over again?
I’d spent 10 years cultivating a solid mix of contacts back home in London. However, they couldn’t do much for me in the big ‘city of dreams.’ I was faced with the challenge of having to build a new network.
Becoming a member of various professional networks has proven an invaluable resource for me as an expat. Whether or not you’re new to a country or just want to further your career, professional networks are a great way to build contacts, stay abreast of industry developments, and accelerate your career.
“All professionals irrespective of seniority, need access to a network that will help build their expertise and propel their career to the next level. Through ColorComm, women are not only given the opportunity to share common experiences, but also learn from the best in their field while supporting each other,” said Lauren Wesley Wilson, CEO and founder of ColorComm, Inc.
Here are some of the advantages of being part of a professional network:
1. Mentors – Membership comes with gaining invaluable access to a pool of accomplished professionals in your field. Recently, I was able to get advice from a fellow board member of Toastmasters, ahead of a big speaking engagement I had coming up. Whether you’re looking for a formal mentoring relationship or just need a sounding board, you’ll be able to tap into the expertise of your peers and the senior professionals within the network.
2. Job opportunities – Most professional networks share job listings that are exclusive to the network. Being a member gives you first dibs on the jobs that often aren’t advertised publicly. Having that visibility is a great way to stay ahead of the curve in the competitive job market.
3. Professional development – A huge benefit to being a part of a professional network is the ongoing development opportunities that will be presented to you. These may be in the form of seminars, conferences, or coffee meet-ups hosted by the ‘movers and shakers’ in the industry.
4. Leadership skills – In my communications director role for the New York chapter of ColorComm, I’ve been able to learn about the overall strategic direction of the organization. Even if you’re not looking to lead the organization, taking a leadership role in some capacity will accelerate your leadership expertise. You will also gain greater exposure to all aspects of the network and its members.
5. Friendships – I’ve built solid friendships with some of the people in the networks I’m a part of. These friendships are invaluable to me; particularly as I’m so far away from my friends back home.
Marielle Legair is the communications director for ColorComm’s New York Chapter, a network for women of color working in communications. Follow her on Twitter: @mariellelegair or visit her lifestyle blog: www.mariellelegair.com.