Most-Important

What do top-performing people do every day that other people don’t?

Hard work? Reading? Exercise? Meditation? Nope.

Here’s what you should be doing every day whether you’re a baker, a pilot or in any line of work. Research has proven that this 1 thing can have the biggest impact on your career –.

To maximize your career success, consider making networking and everyday habit. In fact, the best time to build professional relationships is when you can be helpful and share a great conversation WITHOUT expecting something in return. Spend time connecting over shared interests and focus on building meaningful relationships with no favor in mind, so you have a strong network in place when you need it down the line.

Stop thinking about how you could get something and think about how you can help others. The truth is the magic doesn’t start until people truly care about each other’s success.” Thanks to platforms like LinkedIn, Meetup.com and industry conferences in most every city, there are endless opportunities to meet others and create real value-based relationships.

Become an Active Participant on LinkedIn

LinkedIn has become a must-stop place on the internet to showcase your résumé and personal brand. Ensure your profile is updated, send personalized connection requests, and contribute to the platform by writing articles, commenting on posts, or uploading a value-added video. If you stick with it, people will take notice and you can build genuine relationships.

The 5-minute Favor Mindset

It can be as simple as sharing a blog that you found interesting or letting the person who wrote it know how much you liked it. Consider adding the Buffer app to your phone. Read an article and without typing anything, click on the Buffer icon and you can forward the link to someone via email right from your contact list.

Make Introductions for Others without Being Asked

Be proactive in offering introductions by elevate those in your network by connecting them to your contacts that may have similar interests.

Meet people OUTSIDE of your industry for a coffee

Make an effort to learn about others perspectives and open yourself to new ideas by simply contacting someone for advice or to learn about something that you could share with others.

Ask for What You Want

A recent article highlighted the importance of going after what you want. A reporter had the opportunity to “shadow” Tony Heish, the CEO and founder of Zappos and a net worth of 840 million. At the end of the day, the reporter asked, “I know this might sound weird, but why don’t you let your employees shadow you?” Tony looked at him blankly and said, “I’d be happy to – but no one ever asks.”

The secret to becoming a great networker is to change your mindset to think of networking as learning. Shift your mindset from promotion to education and to make networking as an opportunity for discovery and learning instead of a sales process. Career advancement is as much about who you know as what you know—and that’s exactly why being a powerful networker is so important.

Consider these tips to make networking an on-going part of your career development process:

  1. Give Before You Receive

“To form a relationship with another person, you first need to show them how they’ll benefit,” says professional relationship development expert Keith Ferrazzi, author of “Never Eat Alone. “You usually bring a small gift to a dinner party, so why wouldn’t you offer a potential ally a token of generosity when you meet?” The gesture can be as simple as forwarding a relevant article or providing an introduction to someone who can further that person’s own interests. Think of networking like a bank account you have to build social capital before making a withdrawal.

  1. Ask for a Strategic Introduction

If there’s a specific person you’re hoping to connect with, do some Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn sleuthing to see if you have a contact who knows that individual directly, or at least knows someone who works for the same organization. If you can find it, a 3rd-party endorsement can give you a powerful edge.

  1. Don’t Just Collect Cards

In the game of networking, you’re going for quality, not quantity—so simply focusing on beefing up your contact list can backfire. Instead of casting a wide net, direct it toward cultivating deep personal connections. Consider creating a relationship action plan for every professional goal that you have—be it landing a new job or building your client base. Make a list of people who can be instrumental in helping you achieve that success: friends, co-workers, people you’re hoping to meet, and even individuals you admire and just follow online.

  1. Follow Up – Then Follow Up Again

After clicking with a powerful new connection, too many people drop the ball – failing to check in post-meeting and never leveraging the new relationship. The day after you make a new contact, send an email to that person. And don’t forget to maintain the connection. Keith Ferrazzi says, “In order for your relationships to become more robust, you need to ‘ping’ your network on a regular basis. “Create a schedule for keeping in touch. The frequency and depth of your interactions depends on the strength of the relationship. For casual connections, the occasional retweet or Facebook comment might suffice. For deeper ones, think along the lines of a thoughtful email or meet-up.

  1. Discover Your Contact’s Passions

Before meeting someone you’d like to develop a relationship with, do an online search to uncover what they’re truly interested in, from charities they support to any awards they’ve received. Doing your homework shows a sincere interest in the other person as an individual and not just as a business contact.

  1. Deepen Your Network Pool

The more similar someone is to you, the more comfortable it feels to connect, which is why networks are, by nature, homogenous. We tend to hang out with people like ourselves but diversity is key to growing a strong personal network. So seek relationships with totally different people who can introduce you to brand-new social clusters. Not only will you gain access to potentially influential individuals you’d otherwise might never meet, but you’ll stand out from the pack. A great way to diversify is to “network down.” Most people concentrate on networking up -building a rapport with someone higher than yourself on the ladder. But it’s also smart to connect with savvy junior people in your industry because they might end up being portals of intel that can boost your career down the line.

  1. Seek Common Ground

Here is a shortcut to fostering a new relationship with real roots: Figure out what you and the other person have in common. Focusing on the similarities between you is a quick way to develop a rapport.

Take a look at how Jimmy Fallon made it to ‘The Tonight Show’ through networking. In the span of about five years, Jimmy Fallon went from a “Saturday Night Live” alum unsuccessfully navigating Hollywood to a late night star to the host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” one of the most respected franchises in entertainment. It’s was not by accident. Fallon’s success is due to his intense focus on developing relationships with people who could advance his career.

While still a computer science major in school, he performed comedy at small clubs. Then Fallon interned at a local at a weekly local newspaper. His boss, Peter Iselin passed on his audition tape to entertainment agent Randi Siegel in Los Angeles. Siegel was only 26 but managed to make her way into the SNL crowd with clients like David Spade and Adam Sandler. Siegel gave him a call and was surprised to hear after introducing herself, “Randi Siegel, I know who you are!” Siegel was impressed by his knowledge of the comedy industry coupled with his enthusiasm and agreed to take him on as a client. He was so dead-set on joining SNL that he dropped out of school one semester before graduating.

Due to Siegel’s connections, Fallon was able to eventually get two SNL auditions even after bombing the first one. He was hired as a cast member in 1998. At SNL, Fallon developed the relationship that would come to define his career. SNL producer Marci Klein took a liking to Fallon and recommended that he make his way into the exclusive SNL after parties.

Fallon left SNL in 2004 to pursue a movie career, and after a few flops, he felt stuck. When the late night world started to shift, Michaels convinced Fallon to take Conan O’Brien’s vacated seat on NBC’s “Late Night” in 2009. After “The Tonight Show” drama of O’Brien’s short stint as host and Jay Leno’s return, Michaels decided that Fallon would take the renowned position. Fallon also made a point of connecting with Leno while he was host of “Late Night,” and would call him to ask for advice. Leno says their conversations gave him insight into what made Fallon so successful in such a relatively short time.

Never forget that the # 1 thing that can make the most profound impact your career is networking.

It’s a process not an event.

Make yourself remarkable and you’ll never become invisible.