Own Yourself Series 2: 4 Steps for Effective Networking

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We live in a networked world. Social Networks have invaded our space like never before. Networking conferences are the order of the day. We all know and say that networking is a must these days for career growth. But do we know how to go about it? Why is it that some people are innately better at it, while some sort of stumble around or retreat into a shell? And this is not about being introverted or extroverted.

Networking is a skill that can be mastered by anyone, irrespective of your personality type. You may just adopt different approaches, depending on your comfort.

4 Steps for Effective Networking

1.      “Make It Work” Mindset – The biggest mistake that people make is assuming that networking is only for your own selfish needs. “Make It Work” mindset is about ensuring that Networking works for the other person also. Offer your help and at the same time, don’t shy away from asking for help. If I am only going to ask for help every time, my network is going to wither away. Strengthen your network by offering help, thus building mutually beneficial networks. This also ensures that you will be proactive and nurturing your network, so that it actually works for you when you need it. Always go beyond exchanging business cards or simply connecting on LinkedIn. Be clear and confident about your USP and be upfront about introducing yourself. A first impression is always lasting.

2.      Build a DIVERSE Network – Don’t limit your network to people with whom you have a high comfort level e.g. same school and similar interests. Be brave to venture out and have your ideas challenged. Meeting diverse minds is the best way to accelerate learning, build connections and acquire new ideas. So, if you are in Finance, don’t hesitate to sit with the techie upstairs and chat about cloud infrastructure or Agile methods. Trust me, in the short term it will improve your understanding of the world around us and your working methods.  In the long term, you have earned a valuable contact.

3.      Be Strategic – Build your network in line with your career goals and ambition. You are working in the call center and want to move to HR. Go meet the HR folks, find out about certifications, what they do and maybe seek a temp assignment. Use Social Networking to your advantage. Looking for a role in another city – start building your network of hiring managers and networking forums.

4.      Schedule Time – The most common complaint I receive as a Career Coach is that networking is painful. Because our days are so busy and over loaded, we may get overwhelmed. A trick I have found works for me is to set small goals and plan. So, I will list 3 people I have to talk in a week and then reach out to them and schedule time. I don’t list and talk at the same time, because that can be very time consuming. Breaking up the task works for me. A senior woman leader I know would always use her 20 minute coffee breaks for networking and walk the floors of the office differently. Networking doesn’t always have to be about attending after office evening events or the big conferences – you can always choose which events you want to attend.

Bottomline – Invest in your Network. It is your Strategic Asset.

Your relationships need to be nurtured.

Get rid of the self limiting belief that networking is only self-serving.

LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE.

I would love to hear from you. Post your comments, thoughts. Lets discuss. 

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