Networking is an essential part of your career and whether you think you are a good networker, like networking or don’t like networking at all, in some way or another you network throughout your career.
For some of us, it comes naturally. For others, we would prefer not to do it, and there are some who simply network without even realising they are networking.
Which kind of networker are you?
Meeting new people and reaching out to those in your field of expertise can bring many benefits to your career however often those rewards are not immediately obvious and this can deter us from networking.
However, building positive relationships through networking should be seen as an ongoing exercise requiring continuous effort through small steps and not as a one-off moment.
For those who are new to networking, start to think about who is in your professional network that you can reach out too. Start with safe contacts such are people you know from previous working environments, colleagues in your current workplace or friends in similar industries or professions. This will grow your network quickly and give you the confidence to broaden your search and start connecting with a wider-audience.
Once you are ready to network more broadly, start to think about why you want to connect with potential people and how you can build the relationship. Remember, networking starts quickly once contact is made, however good relationships takes time to develop just like a strong friendship.
For example, mentoring is developed over time where you work together with your mentor on a range of challenges, as you build trust, growing together as a team to achieve your objectives.
Another example is when you reach out to a potential employer for potential job opportunities. Rarely do they reply with an immediate job offer. However, over time a relationship is created after the initial approach and that is when an opportunity may pop up.
Learning to network is thus a patient exercise. Initially it requires confidence, courage and initiative that many of us may find intrusive and potentially uncomfortable. However, the benefits are there for those who see the opportunities.
And when you think about it, what have you got to lose? Not much considering, however you have everything to gain from what may be a greeting or introduction that is career or life changing.