Networking is one of the essential ingredients of success. Ask a successful person!
It might not be as easy as A.B.C. – it’s more like N.E.T.W.O.R.K.I.N.G.
N – New people, new ideas, new approaches
Any time spent in networking is time well spent – if for no other reason but that it allows you relatively easy access to a wide range of new ways of seeing, thinking and doing. A different perspective is often the starting point for innovation, development or expansion of your own career ‘toolbox’.
E – Extend your group of contacts
Your contacts are people who might be able, and available, to help you. You might also be a good resource for them. Your aim is to reach further and to greater effect in your interactions with like-minded people.
T – Take a systematic approach
First, make a list of people you already know and contact them. Let them know what you are doing and what you hope to do. Make it clear you are interested in expanding your professional circle.
Go to events and meetings. Exchange business cards, and follow up each introduction with an email. It shouldn’t be a sales pitch or marketing material. Simply send a friendly acknowledgement of the contact you’ve had, and provide your details.
Keep and maintain a current contact list, and use it!
W – Work on it
Effective networking doesn’t just happen because you attend industry gatherings. It can be time-consuming, sometimes even expensive. Regard it as part of your job and as an investment in your future, and put it the effort accordingly.
O – Open up a world of opportunities
Networking is the ‘ear to the ground’ that will work for you, if and when you are open to new career ventures. When opportunity knocks (or stamps) make sure you are there to hear.
R – Raise your profile
Networking increases your visibility. Being seen can advance your prospects in your current situation or when you are ready for future career moves. Most people like to do business with those they know or those whom their colleagues know. Stay ‘front-of-mind’.
K – Key to relevant professional development
Networking is an ideal way to keep up – to hear about the latest journals, useful seminars, or dynamic speakers. Staying up to date with what’s happening looks impressive. Your employer might welcome the suggestion that you attend, or that your team might benefit from relevant professional learning. And professional learning events are opportunities for even wider networking.
I – Increase your commitment to the industry or business you are in
The more you mix and move in the relevant circles, the more involved and interested you will become in the field you have chosen. Networking helps build your commitment to your career choice. This makes you a more attractive prospect for future employers.
N – Not just about ‘who you know’
It’s also about ‘who they know’ and ‘who knows you’
You have to nurture your relationships with your contacts. Remember, though, it’s a two-way street. The person you help or refer today might be the one who does the same for you tomorrow. Only the most cynical see networking as a way of benefiting only themselves. Be known for the right reasons.
G – Grow your confidence
Networking continually expands your comfort zone as you develop greater awareness and understanding of the marketplace, the ‘influencers’ and the dynamics associated with the industry in which you work. All of this builds your confidence and prepares you to move even further afield.
“The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity” – Keith Ferrazzi
So why not get started a.s.a.p.