By: Genesis Moreno
Before you toss networking aside and mistake it as a skill-set for social butterflies, let’s explore why networking is a skill you already have and what you can do to maximize it.
When I first began my career journey, I figured I could “make it” if I stuck my head in a cubicle and worked my way towards becoming the next Einstein in my area. I had survived college with the three R’s: research, rest, repeat in mind and didn’t think it was a bad idea to carry this mantra into my professional life. Yikes…was I in a for a surprise!
Fast track to the present, networking is the name of the game. According to LinkedIn Reports, it’s the primary vehicle to achieve career success (cue all the introverts squirming in their seats right now).
Don’t Stress, You Already Know How to Do it!
Networking has become a popular means for career development. You can attend seminars and workshops that teach different strategies for successful networking and learn how to pose an introduction or get someone’s contact information. Yes, you can learn a lot of useful tips and tricks, but for the most part…you already know how to network!
In essence, networking is just a fancy term for building relationships. It might be an exchange of words in an elevator moment or asking friends for a contact for a great mechanic. Regardless of the situation, every day you make at least one connection.
Legos Don’t Build Themselves, Build your Foundation!
The important thing about networking is that it takes chatting a step further. It isn’t about sparking a conversation and forgetting tomorrow, it’s about sustaining relationships and expanding your reach one connection at a time.
If you’re introverted, you may feel awkward approaching strangers. That’s okay! If that’s the case, have some go-to phrases in your back pocket like “What brings you here today?”.
Nowadays, you can build a great network completely online if that’s your preference. Social media platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook, can help you build a foundation of friends, past and present employers, co-workers, university colleagues, and anyone with similar interests as you. You can also follow influencers in your field of interest for inspiration.
Network to your own style but remember to always circle back. Think of building a network like watering your social garden, you don’t want your connections to die!
Give and you Shall Receive!
According to LinkedIn Reports, 80% of jobs are never advertised – they are filled by word of mouth.
No question, networking has many advantages. It facilitates important relationships, provides job leads and referrals, and gives you access to relevant information like career-related news and events.
But networking isn’t just about chasing in on all the perks, it’s about finding out how you can be the link for someone else.
Chairman of Entrepreneurship Ventures, Ken Morse, said in a Fast Company interview, “people mistakenly believe that networking is the act of selling yourself, and it doesn’t work when you think it’s about you”. He explains, “Networking is successful when the interaction is about the other person. You may be selling your company and the solutions you offer, but it should never be about you”.
Connections Expert, Linda Elliott of Elliott Connections holds on to the same belief. Listen to her discussing this and many other connecting tips on our very own podcast, Life Unsalted. Listen here.
Networking is a whole lot smoother when you’re not focused on yourself. Consider how you can be of service to others; let those pearly whites shine and prepare to be amazed! Soon enough, your efforts will carry you to the right places and the right people. You never know what’s in store for you when you simply connect!