Networking

Networking seems to get a bad rap these days.  Seems that few really understand it, or really know how to do it.

What is Networking?  Networking is the process of building and maintaining mutually beneficial reciprocal relationships with individuals and groups to share information, advice and connections.

The focus of Networking, therefore, is on relationships.  Networking is not selling.  Networking is not cold calling or prospecting.  Networking is not job searching.

Networking is natural.  We do it all the time, everywhere we go, with all kinds of people.  Whether we are on the phone, the internet or face-to-face, when we are communicating with someone else, we are Networking.  We share information about places, businesses, people, entertainment, services, news, etc.  We do it both formally and informally.  We attend planned events with the purpose to meet others.  We also attend activities to just have fun, and meeting others is not the primary goal.

When you are job searching, your goal is to find and obtain a job.  When you are selling, your goal is to close a deal.  When you are Networking, your goal is to share your knowledge and experience, learn from others, maintain your existing relationships and make new ones.

Why Network?

  • Develop and maintain relationships with lots of different people
  • Opportunity to help others by sharing our knowledge and expertise
  • Opportunity to meet with others on a peer-to-peer basis, no matter the level of responsibility or experience
  • Opportunity to brainstorm and bring new and fresh ideas to the table
  • Find hidden jobs which account for 50% – 80% of the open positions

What Can You Do to Network Successfully?

  • Remember that you know a lot of people (family, friends, co-workers, managers, vendors, clients, classmates, teachers/professors/trainers, members of groups, professional service providers)
  • Learn the “Art of Conversation” instead of the “Elevator Speech” (don’t do a 60-90 second monologue) – engage others in conversation and build rapport
  • Do what is natural, what you already know how to do
  • Join and participate in groups (social, athletic, professional, alumni)
  • Focus on helping others
  • Be specific with requests when you ask for help
  • Be considerate of others and appreciative of their help
  • Be patient and yet persistent
  • Be proactive

Additional Suggestions:

  • Seek out internship, part-time and temporary opportunities
  • Find a mentor
  • Partner with one or more network buddies
  • Utilize social networking tools (e.g., LinkedIn, Facebook) – keep your online presence professional

You do network naturally every day in many different places.  Be open-minded, flexible and creative.  Remember that Networking is about developing and maintaining reciprocal relationships.  Be a giver, and you will enjoy Networking, and reap many unforeseen benefits.

One response

25 10 2010
Jezenia Diaz

I really appreciate this article on Networking. I haven’t used Linked In to it’s fullest and I understand now how I can network in different ways within Linked In besides just connecting with others and also how to network with others outside of this website. The key is to be a giver, networking isn’t all about receiving and most important…get out there, be involved. This is a good reminder. Thanks!

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