Networking isn't about looking for a job. The truth is networking is a way of life. It is about making new friends and developing trust! Whether you a college graduate or seasoned executive, it is never too early or to late to start. Here are five things to help you understand the real meaning of networking.
1. BE "OTHER CENTRIC"
Networking is not about spewing your 45 second commercial. It is about meeting people and developing a relationship. Always show interest in others. Ask them what they do and really listen to their answer. Even ask sincere follow-up questions.
2. GATHER INFORMATION
The time to start gathering information is while you are employed. Speak with co-workers and peers about what they are doing, what they find interesting and listen. Listening is a key ingredient to being a good networker. Ignore that voice in your head that wants to weed out information or discard it. All information is good information!
3. TRACK MOVERS AND SHAKERSCarve time into your schedule to meet industry movers and shakers. Read their work, follow their activities. See what makes them tick.
4. MAKE IT FUN
Every time you leave your house you have the opportunity to meet new people. Consider it a personal challenge or game, because you just never know what may happen or who knows who. The next time you go to fill up your car with gas, pay inside and chat with the cashier, just for a second. Doing this is great practice at making small talk and again, you just never know. Maybe it is the dry cleaner, supermarket check out or coffee shop barrista...all of these folks are great practice and worthy of becoming new acquaintance's.
5. "LATHER RINSE REPEAT"
Just as the instructions say on a shampoo bottle (or used to) networking is an on-going process. Meeting someone once does not form a relationship. You need to continuously make the effort to re-connect with them. It can be as simple as sharing an article or sending them a quick note about an upcoming event they may be interested in or a message asking them about a project they said they were working on. Listening is important. It will be very difficult to do this follow-up if you haven't been listening to what they've talk about.
Greater than 80% of jobs are secured through some form of networking contact. If you feel this sounds like a game, ignore that voice in your head. Approach networking as "information gathering" and an "opportunity to meet new people". There is no hidden agenda there.
Be patient. Networking takes time and so does establishing trust. This is not a wonder drug that will promise immediate results. This is an investment in your future. Networking is about establishing relationships and it is a quality vs. quantity mentality that will best serve you.
I am honored to be part of Career Collective, a community of extremely talented resume writers and career coaches. This post is one of many responses to NETWORKING. Expect to find other tips and advice on:
- Overcoming networking fears
- Tips for introverts AND extroverts
- Making networking fun
Networking: Easy as 1, 2 , 3, @WorkWithIllness
How to Take the Intimidation Out of Networking, @heathermundell
Networking for the Shy and Introverted, @KatCareerGal
A tale of two networkers, @DawnBugni
Networking for Job Candidates Who Hate Networking, @heatherhuhman
Networking? Ugh! @resumeservice
Network, Network, Network, @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes
3 ways to make networking fun for introverts and extroverts, @Keppie_Careers
Grow Your Career Networking Seeds Organically, @ValueIntoWords
Networking: It's a Way of Life, @WalterAkana
Social Media Networking & Your Career, @GayleHoward
Networking for the Networking-Phobic, @JobHuntOrg
Networking: Why Who You Know Doesn't Count, @Chandlee