Leveraging the Power of Networking

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Networking is the Swiss Army knife of career advancement.  It is a powerful instrument that supplements how you achieve your career goals. By building and nurturing professional relationships, you receive valuable insights and support from your network. In this article, we’ll explore why networking is valuable, and provide actionable tactics for cultivating productive connections.

Networking is not just something that you do when you are in a time of need. The value of networking is maximized when it is an “all of the time” thing. When networking is treated as a continuous event, it provides you with an opportunity to serve others when your career path is on-track and it serves as a significant head start when it is your turn to seek career assistance.

So how does networking provide value to you?   

  • Potential Access to Hidden Opportunities: Think of networking as a career growth treasure map.  Building strong relationships increases the likelihood of discovering and receiving recommendations for career advancement, with some opportunities not even advertised yet.  Advance notice is always a head start on the pursuit of your objectives. 
  • Access to Insights: Networking allows you to tap into the knowledge and experience of professionals in your field. You can gain valuable insights into specific companies, industries, events and educational opportunities.
  • Becoming “Known: You receive the power of being able to help other people. Exercising that power allows you to build a personal brand of helping others, a trait that makes you desirable for any organization. Active participation in networking activities helps to establish your visibility within your chosen discipline. The following axiom couldn’t be more true: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know… and who knows what you have the capability to do.
  • Professional Development: Networking provides opportunities for continuous learning and skill development. It keeps you updated on the latest trends and advancements in your field, positioning you as a knowledgeable and proactive professional.
  • Enhanced Credibility: Companies are more likely to proactively engage and collaborate with people who have a reputation as a reliable and engaged members of the professional community.

While networking can be incredibly beneficial, it’s essential to approach it strategically to ensure that your efforts yield meaningful results.  Here is some counsel for making your networking efforts productive:

  • Get Organized: Before diving into networking activities, take the time to succinctly define your objectives. Understand who you would like to connect with professionally and why. Stay structured and focused on who you build meaningful relationships with. Creating a leave behind, such as a career biography, helps people understand where you can add specific value, allowing you to focus on rapport building in your meeting efforts.
  • Don’t Just Randomly Connect:  Time is a valuable resource. Be purposeful about who you connect with in your networking efforts.  Take a moment to more specifically identify people who will benefit from the experience of networking with you.
  • Offer Value to Others: Networking is a two-way street. Instead of focusing solely on what you can gain from your connections, make sure you can clearly articulate your vision for adding value to others. Offer assistance, share insights and resources, and be genuinely interested in helping others succeed.
  • More is Not Necessarily Better: A smaller network of people filled with people who are committed to serving each other is better than a digital rolodex of people you can’t even remember who they are or what they do.
  • Networking Does Not Happen at Events: Meeting new people is what happens at events. Networking, by definition, means offering deeper community and is the natural follow-up to meeting new people. After you meet the people at events you want to connect with, work to build rapport with that person over a cup of coffee, as an example.    
  • Follow Up and Stay Engaged:   Building a network is not just about making initial connections; it’s about nurturing and maintaining those relationships over time. Stay engaged by regularly reaching out, sharing new ideas, and offering support whenever possible.
  • Be Authentic and Genuine: Authenticity is key to building trust and rapport in networking relationships. Approach strategic interactions with sincerity and genuine interest. Avoid coming across as transactional or opportunistic.

Personal networking is a valuable career asset that requires a level of care and commitment to maintain and keep in top form. You get out of it what you put into it.  Networking requires a level of authenticity and service to be truly effective and it should be considered as a long-term career play, not a quick fix to a present employment hiccup in a moment of time. When done properly, networking can (and will) be a great friend to you.

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