Networking often gets a bad rap. It can feel as though people are only in it to serve their own agendas. They are selling themselves with high expectations that people will help them without putting in the time to build real connections. However, there is such a thing as authentic networking where you can build real relationships with people that mutually benefit the careers of all parties.
Tips for Authentic Networking at the Executive Level
Start with a Common Interest
Our commonalities are what ultimately connects us. Therefore, you are much more likely to build authentic networking relationships with those who share your interests and values. As you begin to network, especially on social media platforms like LinkedIn, spend some time perusing the profiles of those you believe would add value to your network. Do you both enjoy tennis or hiking? Start with that as a talking point. In fact, your eMBA alumni directory is a great place to start; you already have an instant connection!
Err Towards Altruism
Altruistic networking adds value to your professional relationships, and your willingness to help others pays off in the long run. You build your reputation as a go-to person people seek out for advice about prospective opportunities, and you secure those relationships with people who can return the favour. Remember: Unless you would do the same for them, do not expect others to help you.
Keep It Personal
Just as you would not send your resume and cover letter to a multitude of organizations without any personalization, the same should be true in authentic networking. Customizing your message is essential. If you send a mass email to fifty different people, expect your request to be ignored. There is nothing enticing them to make an effort to respond. They will see your mass email as disingenuous and, frankly, annoying. Therefore, if you want people to take you seriously, you need to invest the time to make your messaging personal by finding a point of interest and developing a real human connection.Altruistic networking adds value to your professional relationships, and your willingness to help others pays off in the long run Click To Tweet
Ditch the Tech
While living in a technology-heavy world can sometimes make our daily interactions feel very robotic, you have to remember that those you are seeking to network with are human beings. They are not a void sitting on the other side of a computer screen. They form first impressions, have values, make goals to further their own careers, and have a desire for real human connection. Therefore, it is crucial to make it a point to network face-to-face. Sure, there is value in networking via social media, but, if the opportunity arises, nothing beats bonding over a meal or a shared interest.If you want people to take your networking efforts seriously, you need to invest the time to make your messaging personal by finding a point of interest and developing a real human connection. Click To Tweet