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Networking 101: Nurturing your professional network

No matter where you are in your career, you have undoubtedly built a network of people you know professionally. You may have known some people in your network for 20 years; others you may have met once for coffee a long time ago.

Many people concern themselves with how far their professional network extends. But the question should not be how large your network is, but how strong your connections are within your network. As with so many things in life, your network is not just about quantity. Quality counts, too.

With this in mind, here are a few networking challenges for you to consider. Think about what you can do to strengthen your network ties and make a commitment to these actions.

Building stronger connections doesn't necessarily mean a big time commitment. Sending a follow-up email takes only minutes, and it reminds both you and the receiver that you have a connection that is there and available should a need ever arise.

Most importantly, enjoy the process. Strengthening your connections should be fun, not work. Always make time to invest in your network and to strengthen those ties. Support the people in your network and they will support you.

Carolyn Baana, aka Coach Carolyn, is the owner of Breakthrough Strategies in Fargo, N.D., and a certified professional coach through the International Coach Federation. She blogs about life and career success at