What is networking
Networking is about building a set of relationship(s) to get things done, to get ahead in your career and to develop professionally.
Hold on … before you start thinking that it is self-serving, let’s first explore what is it all about
Your Network is your Net Worth
Types of Network
As humans, we have a natural tendency to develop and nurture our Personal and Operational Networks. Strategic networks give us the impetus to grow in our careers, learn new things, identify opportunities, generate new ideas, collaborate etc.
Making your network “work”
Step 1: Set a goal for yourself:
Establish your short-term and long-term goals. This is a critical step as this would decide what type of network you would like to nurture. Whether it is about finding mentors & sponsors within your organisation or whether it is finding a new job or learning new in your field of work.
In case you are not sure, start with meeting people
Step 2: Find your courage
Networking does not come easy. It is about taking that step into the unknown despite all the fears. Different ways can be – Find a buddy who could accompany you to networking events, go to the familiar, practice your speech
Step 3: Value Proposition
While you may have a goal to find a job for yourself, remember, networking is a two-way street. Prepare your elevator pitch. What are your strengths, and what are your hobbies? When meeting someone for the first time, the most boring thing to ask can be – “what do you do?” and the most boring thing to say is “I work as an analyst with xyz company”. Instead start talking about your last vacation, last book you read, or someone interesting you met.
Step 4: Enlist your network
Believe it or not, you are already part of many networks. Your school friends, your college group, your work colleague, your co-passenger in the metro while travelling to/from your workplace, your yoga buddy – everyone is part of your informal network. All your friends have friends and they too have friends. Tapping into this network can be easy
Becoming part of a Formal Network has to be deliberate, your goals will come to your rescue.
Step 5: Do you Homework
Imagine, you asked your friend to introduce you to their friend and they do. Never go unprepared. Do you homework and read-up about this person, the organisation that the person belongs to or anything else that may be helpful
Step 6: Nurture your network
It’s upon you to nurture the network. Nurturing is not about you but about them. Look at what interests them. Invite them for events which may be of interest to them. Share information with them. Help the other person to network
It’s not what you know and it’s not who you know it’s who knows what you knowNora Denzel
Network is a two way street
Networking may sound very self-serving attempt to career progression. Networking is not about what you get but also what you give. When networking, if the focus is on sharing your business card and what you do, sure enough the other person will forget you. However, if you get into a conversation of mutual interest (it could be about the last cricket match, or an author you admire or even a travel destination. Avoid politics and other controversial subjects), there are greater chances the other person to remember you and willing to stay in touch to continue the conversation.
Women & Networking
Men just network. They go for smoke, they go out for after office drinking get-together, they play sports and many more instances where they can have an informal conversation. Women on the hand hesitate to network. In a study by Marjo-Riitta Diehl and her research co-authors, women feel they underestimate their own contribution to the network and believe that they derive more benefits from the network that they contribute to the network. This factor discourages them even more, and hence they hesitate to network.
Networking is a must for career advancement, transitioning into leadership, finding mentors and sponsors, being considered as thought leaders in their area of expertise, finding a new job and many more benefits. Networking is not only beneficial for themselves but also for their teams, organisation and even their family.
Women need to be more deliberate to build & nurture their network specially the strategic network.
Human are social beings and building relations is innate to them. Networking may sound like something very formal, however, networking as our authentic self will help us shed our inhibitions about networking. Who we network with should be deliberate, How we network should be as our authentic selves.
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