The word “Networking” freaks people out. Yes, it can be very daunting, very challenging, very time consuming, but very beneficial.
The real goal of networking is to help other people. Perhaps that sounds like an oxymoron to you, but yes, the more you help people, the more rewards will flow your way. It’s important to understand the needs and wants of people you meet. Your goals should not be at the forefront of your mind, initially you are trying to develop a relationship which means you should be thinking of them.
Networking is not a numbers game, it’s just meeting the right people. Don’t shotgun your business cards across the industry or pepper everybody with emails. That doesn’t work. Focus on finding and opening dialogue with persons relevant to you. It’s better to have 10 people willing to help you out over 400 that just know your name and don’t know you as a person.
Don’t leave networking to chance. Take sometime to define what you are looking for in your network. Be proactive and create a list of meaningful contacts. Don’t dismiss anyone as being irrelevant.
Make networking a habit. If in career transition, try to connect with 3 new persons a day. However, if you are gainfully employed, 1-2 new conversations will suffice. Be prepared to be rejected. Don’t take no personally. We live in a fast-paced environment where people’s time is paramount. If the person is swamped, they may say no, if you catch them on a good day, they may say yes. Don’t take it to heart. It’s not a reflection of you, it’s a reflection of a person’s daily life. If you do connect, make it a point to follow up. This is an opportunity to advance the relationship by bringing up a topic that you discussed and hopefully provide the opportunity for further dialogue.
Finally, you don’t need to be a professional networker. But accept the benefits of building mutual beneficial relationship is the foundation of career success. Networking can make a huge difference if you focus on being useful.
What tips would you like to add? Have you been successful in your networking? Share your thoughts in the comments below.