- 87% of Professionals network regularly; to build enduring and long-lasting relationships.
- Networking is all about being ABSORBED/INTERESTED BY OTHER PEOPLE’s LIVES. When you take interest in them, they reciprocate in kind; through experiences, relationships and even job leads.
- Make a Great First Impression, Pay Attention to Little Details and Follow-up as Promised; doing this will ensure your Network works for you, both in the short and long-term.
Networking, as has been observed, is basically about ‘Building Relationships’. It is about connecting with people and leveraging those connections, whether or not there is immediate gain involved.
It is also about;
- Knowing and developing connections which last
- Helping and sharing information with others
- Going out of your comfort zone to find people who you can learn from, and with whom there is mutual understanding.
Although networking per se can be pretty daunting considering there is no immediate benefit or requirement to be sought, it can be fruitful, both personally and professionally in the long run.
A 2012 Business Networking Survey has revealed that almost 87% of professionals network regularly. Of these, 95% do it, to build strong and lasting relationships and 90% do it as a way to look for opportunities.
The 13% that did not network, attributed it to a lack of time and being unsure about their ROI!
If ¾ of the working professionals find it important, then there is value is networking and the role it plays in their growth.
Although spoken of rather casually, networking is itself an art that needs to be developed. An awkward conversation and unsure attitude can put paid to any hopes of developing a relation into a long-standing, meaningful one.
Below are therefore few effective Networking Tips that can help you, whether on a one-to-one basis or in a group.
- Networking is all about GIVING and RECIVING
It is important to understand that networking mainly involves connecting with people and building relationships; you may get something out of it or you may not. What matters is doing it without an ultimate gain in mind.
In networking, the law of reciprocity plays a big role; give and at some time you will get back, even if it is not immediate.
- Clarity on what networking does is very important.
Networking helps in:
* Building Connections
* Helps in sharing knowledge, experience, information and ideas
* Finding people who are genuinely interesting and whom you’d like to know
Networking is not about:
* Explicitly getting a job
* Promoting/selling services o products
* Squeezing funding
* Bagging a donation
* Making friends for favors
Networking should be approached with the right mind set, for it to be productive. If you are artificial, people will immediately see through your sham and the entire purpose of it will be defeated.
- Networking means pushing yourself out of your comfort zone
Speaking and interacting with people you know is relatively easy, but this is not necessarily networking. To do that, you will continuously have to push yourself to meet and interact with complete strangers, people you don’t know.
- Networking is about that first impression that can MAKE or BREAK you.
This 30 second window when handled well can open opportunities for you that you never even imagined.
First impressions comprise of 3 communication methods; words (7%), tone (38%) and body language (55%). Handling the first two well, coupled with a strong handshake can make an impression that lasts a lifetime.
- Networking is also about that FIRST CONVERSATION
A great introduction about yourself, is about summarizing your life and work in 30 seconds, no more, and should include;
* Your Name
* Your relation to the situation
* How you can help others
Therefore, if you are Anna Bradley, and you work as a curator in a renowned art gallery, you can mention this and outline your job profile, as showcasing and selling art of upcoming artists.
Words such as provide, give, help, serve, contribute always strike a chord, and can actually continue the conversation, and invite discussion.
- Networking is about subtly stepping into a conversation, even if you are not invited.
A situation many find difficult to handle; joining a conversation must be done politely and sustained thoroughly, so that a relationship develops.
Ask open ended ‘How’ and ‘What’ questions, and that will take the conversation ahead.
- Networking is also about exchanging contact information, through the all-important Business Card
A very essential tool, remember to carry lots with you and hand them over meaningfully only when required. The same holds true for receiving one as well. Use these cards to reconnect with the giver at some point of time later on.
- Pay attention to the little things
* Be confident, it always matters.
* Remember that you too are as important as the person you are interacting with. Don’t act over-confident or arrogant.
* Getting to know the person is important in the first meeting, rather than pushing an agenda.
* Share whatever you can with people. You will get back manifold when the time comes.
* Always praise other people, rather than praising only yourself.
* Talk less, and listen more. If you work this the other way around, no one will attempt to remember you.
- Networking is all about FOLLOWING-UP
Connect with people in a way that works mutually. Send them an email or make a call if required, send them an interesting web article, thank the organizer with a note or do whatever you have promised someone at the meet-up.
Keeping your word shows aspects of your personality that go well beyond words.
- Networking is not just about one-to-one contact
Besides in-person meet-ups, there are plenty of other ways to make valuable connections. These include;
* Contributing to blogs in your area of interest
* Connecting with people in your community through emails or letters about their work.
* Connecting with people through Social Media
Finally, at the end of the day, Networking is all about being humble, attentive and having simple good manners. When you are absorbed/ interested by people, rather than entirely by yourself, especially in today’s world, you will truly stand out!