Networking is one of the most valuable aspects of business and professional development. Everyone you converse with regarding business advice always seems to suggest the importance of networking, networking and more networking. It may seem superficial and underrated but when you delve into the benefits that arise from it, the significance becomes apparent.
After reading the following list your perception on networking will inevitably change as you begin to realise that it is a necessity, not an option if you plan to be associated with any substantial form of success.
Listed below are some key elements of networking:
Every individual you meet has something to offer whether it be proverbial wisdom or thousands of dollars of revenue. Initially their purpose in your life may not be apparent but if you can see good qualities, potentially valuable personality traits and can align them somewhere in your future, formulating a professional, sincere and caring relationship with them provides an optimal environment for a symbiotic exchange of information, assistance and even referrals to companies or other influential people.
Another important aspect of networking is meeting people that can give you advice. Congregating with like-minded individuals with similar goals and repertoires of business and corporate related skills that they have developed over years provides you with human scaffolding that can take your subject knowledge to the next level. For example attending a networking event with fifteen IT experts houses more IT knowledge than a four year university course could ever teach you and to find the answers to any questions you may have, all you need to do is ask.
Business and professional opportunities never come to the unprepared, and rarely come to the people that lack networks and exist in isolation. You will be amazed at the opportunities that present themselves through people and strategic relationships that you have developed along your way. All it takes is some conscious effort and kindness to consolidate a respectful relationship with an individual that you have crossed paths with. These relationships foster the generation of new opportunities which may present themselves in the form of client lead generation, partnerships, guest speaking roles, write-ups, referrals, increased brand exposure, mentors, the addition of collaborative team members and in many other largely beneficial ways.
To prepare for opportunities you must first prepare your network.
4. Positive influences
It’s no secret that the people you spend the most time with rub off on you. There’s a reason that parents are vigilant with their children in regards to keeping them away from the “bad eggs”. Understanding the contagious implications of physical and emotional proximity with people, this aspect of your life should be carefully evaluated and scrutinised. Time and your mental integrity is valuable and as such should be invested in people that will provide beneficial attributes, traits and attitudes that will inadvertently form part of your character and life goals.
Networking is one of the tools in your arsenal when relating to building your reputation. Becoming well known for your expertise, nurturing nature, support and integrity is invaluable. People will want to know you, want to help you and be the first to refer you to any opportunities that may arise. A person that trusts you and knows what you are about will bat for you again and again and having a supportive network creates a ripple effect that will propel you to where you want to be.
After understanding the importance of networking it is necessary to generate an action plan.
When entering a networking environment you must know exactly what you want to get out of it. What people do you want to meet? What opportunities do you want to generate? What presence do you want to radiate and what perception of yourself do you want to instil in the minds of the people around you? All of these will shape the experience you have at the events you attend. Other things to think about are icebreakers that can be used to ignite conversations with strangers, where to source more networking events and following up with notable people you connect with.
Your network is what you make of it. Investing time and effort to foster the growth of a supportive team environment with people on the same wavelength as you will pay off tenfold and your network is in reality a reflection of you.
Executive Director of InternMe Australia