Networking is a combination of meeting new people and developing mutually beneficial relationships inside and outside your industry. Within your network, you gain further references, resources, and marketing opportunities to accelerate your career. The effectiveness of your network will follow of “You get out what you put in” mantra. Many will shy away from persistent networking tactics in fear of being considered overly aggressive or annoying, but that’s not what effective networking is designed to be.
Networking is credited as one of the most popular tools for choosing a candidate, but that should never be the intended purpose. If you are aspiring to create an avenue for success based on your network, here are three fundamental principles you must understand and incorporate into your career daily:
What Networking Is & Is Not
Effective networking is not a practice limited to those seeking assistance. It does not entail calling everyone you know and asking them for favors, nor is it a therapeutic outlet for your problems. It is centralized on the gathering or sharing of information that can be momentous in your job search or current position. When you establish rapport with other career professionals and remain patient, a level of trust ensues, leading to optimal career opportunities. Business cards are often exchanged, but only when there is a legitimate reason to keep in touch. When operating with the right intentions, networking is also a great way to step out of the comfort zones of your personality type, career path, and background.
Do Your Homework
Networking does not have to be time-consuming, but there is an expectation that you will research whom you are communicating with and your connection would be beneficial. If you are attending a networking event (virtual or in-person), you can request a list of guests and prepare specific questions for individuals you plan to introduce yourself to. Stay realistic in what you hope to accomplish, and remember not to expect immediate results. When you pinpoint your objectives, you are setting yourself up for a greater chance of success.
Identify the industries, interests, and position titles with which you hope to establish a connection. Be intentional in blending conversations of your industry or interests into their industry or interests, and vice versa. Find ways to reciprocate the knowledge and wisdom they’ve shared back to their interests and career path.
Networking is an Ongoing Process
Quit generating excuses as to why you don’t have time. If you are not actively maintaining contact with your network or looking to expand upon it, you are practically begging for a rut in your career. Utilize social platforms such as LinkedIn to converse with business professionals that share a job title or industry with you. Be strategic with your work schedule and create blocks of time for lunch, coffee, or a virtual meeting. Your competitors are likely making time for networking, so to reach your highest aspirations, the expectation is that you’ll do the same.
Networking is not limited to the scheduled events you often see promoted. You can capitalize on your network through a consistent approach and committed effort. Your active involvement will plant seeds for future business and unleash the potential for career opportunities. Whether through a paid networking event, social gathering, doing someone a favor or fostering your relationships, you are completing a form of networking every day. Just remember, the primary goal is to garner knowledge and wisdom, not to strike gold on a new sale or job opportunity.