What You Can Ask For From Your Professional Network

Although we’ve talked about how you can network, we wanted to share some tips this week on what types of questions you can be asking your network once you establish relationships. Of course, you should be keen to offer the following information in return to your professional network. After all, it’s a two-way street! 

Salary and compensation information
This is perhaps one of the most important questions you can ask peers working in your field. Knowing what others make — and expect to make — at jobs similar to yours can give you real information about how much you should be getting paid. It can also help you prep to ask for a raise or negotiate at a new job. 

Continuing education and certification programs
Keeping up with continuing education credits is hard. Tap into your network to find out how they’re keeping their professional licenses fresh. You may come away with new ideas for continuing education like mentorship or a specific conference. 

What they like and dislike about their employer
This is one of the most valuable ways you can use your network. Finding out what your peers like and dislike about their employer can give you a front row seat to how they treat their employees. This can be useful when it comes time to look for a new job. It will help you easily determine whether or not applying for certain roles, which is worthwhile. 

Whether they’ve heard of any job openings or freelance openings
Similarly, your network can help you find a new job or side hustle. Ask around — you would be surprised to find out who can help you! You can easily do this via email or text message. Just make sure you keep it low pressure. Not everyone knows about job openings. 

What their favorite tools are for getting their work done
This is by far one of my favorite ways to tap into my network. Friends have taught me how to use Google Analytics to find out how She Spends is performing, how to organize my life using Trello and how to share news on social media using Hootsuite. Since we’re in similar fields, they have a lot to offer in the way of ideas, which can in turn help you improve at work.

Whether they can sponsor you in the workplace
This is a biggie! When you’ve networked well with your boss and other peers who are higher in the ranks at work, this is what you should be asking for instead of mentorship. A sponsor vouches for you to work on certain projects and will push for you to get paid what you’re worth. Instead of simply doling out advice, as a mentor would, a sponsor actually puts you out there. They’re like your own hype person. To be sure, you have to be careful in who you ask to be a sponsor. Sometimes it just happens on its own.

- Alicia McElhaney / She Spends Issue #54

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