The best time to start doing this is now - the second best time was 10 years ago
One of the best ways to advance your career is to learn how to Network professionally. The best time to start was 10 years ago. The second best time is now. In your career, who you know is just as important as what you know.
Like exercising, the best networkers are staying in shape by doing it regularly. Building a powerful and well connected Social Network is one component of networking, however be very careful that you don't make the mistake of putting all your eggs in that basket.
This article mainly refers to face to face to networking.
5 networking guidelines
1. Focus on what you can give rather than what you can get. If you are always looking to take from others, your network will run dry very quickly. We've all had old friends or distant relatives who only contacted us when they wanted something. Those friendships burn out pretty quickly.
2. Find things that you enjoy doing and get more involved. If you like bush walking, join or form your own bush walking group. If you are a parent look for opportunities to volunteer. Go on the journey with your children.
Most junior sports teams are almost run exclusively by volunteers. You can become a manager, coach, scorer, assistant coach, bacon and egg roll chef, sponsorship coordinator, whatever. You'd be amazed whom you might meet and where those relationships might take you.
If sport isn't your thing, why not consider joining the P&C, your local choir group or house of prayer?
3. Network within your company. You can quickly enhance your reputation within your own company in a few simple ways.
Volunteer to get involved in activities that give you the chance to meet more people. Join the social club committee, attend client functions, have lunch in a communal area engaging in conversations with others, take an interest in people working in different areas of your company. Everyone you interact with should be left with a positive impression of you.
Avoid gossip, speaking negatively about others or wasting time on frivolous activities.
4. Keep turning up. Quite often you won't really feel like going to another client function, conference or networking event.
At the end of a working day your thoughts can quickly turn to Netflix, Uber Eats and a good night in. Yes, very tempting. Put those thoughts off until tomorrow, phone a friend and get along to the event. You'd be amazed whom you might just meet. The most successful networkers I meet keep turning up.
That’s all good in theory Steve, but I'm shy, a little awkward and prefer to live on line with my 15,000 Facebook friends.
That's perfectly OK. Successful networkers don't all need to be like Eddie Maguire. I suggest go with someone else to events whenever you can.
Ensure when attending events that you are well prepared. Do your homework on the speakers and the hosts on LinkedIn.
When you meet new people be genuinely interested in them. Ask them a few questions, smile, and listen with intent. Don't try too hard to make it work. Some people you just naturally gel with. Spend more time with them. Most of the people at the event will be very similar to you. Be patient. It takes time and regular energy to build a successful network.
5. Stay in touch - Once you start to build your network you need to find creative ways of staying in touch. This is an amber light. Approach with caution. There's a fine line between staying in touch and becoming a stalker.
Successful business networking is not about posting photos of what you had for lunch, an award you have just won or how you were the star of the show at your recent conference.
Successful networkers look to add value to their network by providing new connections, fresh ideas, options or introductions to their network.
What's that sound you hear? That's my tummy rumbling. I'm off to have lunch and do some networking with my National Operations Manager.