What is networking?
Networking is an important tool for anyone trying to excel in your career, grow a business, or simply get to know more people in your professional or social circles. Your network is not just your Facebook friends, or Linkedin connections; a true network is the people you know personally that you’ve developed a relationship with. The importance of a network is to create a sense of community around yourself to assist you achieving your goals, as well as help others achieve theirs.
Building Your Network Overtime = Compound Interest
Networking is a skill that can be learned by anyone. The value is that when you consistently network overtime, your network overtime becomes more valuable, like compound interest. Networking has proven to be challenging, yet those who network effectively are more likely to have better business development outcomes and perform better at work.
Networking Isn’t Natural for Everyone, So Here’s Some Help:
The biggest issue with networking is that it’s not in everyone’s blood to be a hungry networker. It takes time, planning, and energy to go to events, introduce yourself, share your story, and engage in conversation with strangers. However, networking is a skill that can be learned and improved upon. Here are our top life hacks for becoming a great networker, even if you hate networking:
1. Make Sure You’re Engaging with All the People Currently in Your Network
One of the easiest ways to improve your network without leaving the house is to engage your current network online to initiate better relationships with the people you already know. The best way to do this is to spend some time going through your Linkedin or other online contacts, and send out some messages to people you’ve met in person before. Ask what they are focused on, and if there is any way you can help them. Focusing on their goals can make an online conversation more friendly.
2. Network Internally at Your Workplace
If you work at a larger company, it’s probably not likely that you know everyone in the building. An easy way to effortlessly grow your network is to take an extra minute to introduce yourself to your colleagues you don’t know by name but work for the same company. A simple conversation over lunch or coffee to discuss their roles and professional goals is all you need. Getting to know these acquaintances a little better will not only show that you’re making strong internal connections, but you never know when you’ll need some extra help from someone who’s not in your department.
3. Connect with Event Organizers
Networking event organizers tend to have great networks. Not only can they serve as helpful connection, they can also give you insight as to what events are more aligned with your goals. Not all networking events will have the type of people or value that you’re seeking. And although you never know who you might meet, if networking is not your favorite hobby, then it’s better to pick and choose networking opportunities that suit your personal and professional needs best.
4. If You’re Afraid to Chat, Remember to Smile
Walking up to a stranger, or group of strangers can cause a lot of anxiety for many people. That’s OK – if you’re fearful of being the first to initiate a conversation during a professional networking event or similar setting, just remember that a smile can go a long way. Smiling shows that you’re open to conversation, and that you welcome anyone to do so. It’s almost as if you’re putting the ball in their court to make the introduction.