What is Networking?
Basically networking is meeting new people.
Networking is the interaction with others for the purpose of exchanging information, and developing professional or social contacts.
Nothing so scary about that!
Why is Networking important?
Most professionals will be required to do some business development and attract and retain clients or customers. Your employer (or prospective employer) wants to know that you are making the business money. Networking is one of the ways that this can be done.
Attending (and excelling at) networking events can be a great way to meet people and connect. However, you also need to be someone that follows through on the connections made and meets the right people with whom you will have a beneficial relationship – for example: who will give work or make referrals. This ability to do this is the skill.
How can you excel at making connections by networking?
Some people just have that natural personality that means they are like a fish to water at networking events – they are fun and likeable so people naturally follow up with them because they enjoyed their company and want to get to know them better.
However, for the rest of us who don’t naturally have that flow (myself included) we should not despair – there are plenty of opportunities for us to be helpful, likeable and master the skill of networking.
We must start by scrapping the old-school mentality of networking, sales pitches and business cards. More and more networking events are embracing technology and promoting a ‘generosity’ approach.
Excelling at networking in part comes down to preparation such as knowing who is attending the event and understanding what you can give or offer them, how to can provide value and how you can make a genuine connection.
Skill Development Plan
Your Skill Development Plan should be simple – prepare well and network as much as you can.
Regular readers will know that I have a Filofax dedicated to Networking. There is also a Networking Notebook that forms part of the Printed Portal Organisational Notebooks Range which will help you prepare for networking events. Additionally, don’t forget to check out our Career Development Prompt series for more networking goodies.