Networking is one of the most valuable skills you can develop. It can be an enjoyable experience that brings value to your work and can even enhance your career.
In this article, we’ll discuss how networking can assist with career progression.
Did you ever feel awkward at a gathering of people who you don’t know? At the time you went to a networking event like an alumni meet, or Company annual summits did you feel like standing at a corner of the room? And thought when this is going to end? Or how to leave without being noticed!
Don’t worry; we all faced the situation once or more in life.
Everyone knows that networking is essential. In one study executives were asked about their “social capital” as per sociologists it is the value of your connections and the potential value in the new network, the executives who gave importance to social capital are found to be more successful in their jobs, get promotions quickly and have fulfilling careers overall. Also, companies with employees rich in social capital have dramatically outperformed their competitors.
But we also feel awkward about networking and have qualms about meeting new people. In a study, participants who were asked to reach out to people and make new professional connections; felt the subconscious thoughts of getting clean, it means they considered networking to be something dirty.
So how do we reconcile these two ideas? We know we need a robust network, but we feel awkward every time we try. Thus, we must redefine networking
New studies state that networking is not meeting strangers or talking with new people, it’s understanding the network that’s already around you and acting accordingly, in simple terms, you need to understand who your friend is and who is a friend of your friend. If you adopt this mentality, you can start with three steps
Three simple ways to begin with
Renew Dormant connections
Start with your acquaintances or loose connections to whom you used to be close but haven’t talked for a long time, for whatever reason.
They now might be in other colleges, companies, or new geographies and can give you a new set of information than any strangers. And also it is easier to get along with them as they are not strangers but your friends once upon a time.
A Brief case:
There is a friend of mine Keerthi; she was very active in keeping in touch with old friends and appeared at all the celebration parties and events. Though she is looking for a job after her final year, she never asked for a job in those events.
She was charming and jolly, being a person who is nice to converse with. In between the conversation, people casually enquired what she is doing; she would mention that she is looking for a job.
As she was always active and good at maintaining relationships, she was given a reference or information about job openings in the company. With one of the help of reference given by her school friend, she got recruited into UnitedHealth Group.
Make your work friends into real friends
It is always recommended to keep your colleagues and office connections as professional as possible, But it’s also necessary to forge those professional friendships into strong ones so that you can always count on them in the hour of need.
Let me share my personal experience here;
I worked at HeroMotoCorp Ltd. We were a team of 10-12 people in the department of after sales. We shared a great rapport as we need to work together to achieve the sales targets.
After two years, I left my job and joined IIM to pursue my MBA But it didn’t make me zoning out from them; I still keep in touch with them through WhatsApp.
And, as a result, they were happy to help me in completing my marketing assignments during the 1st year of my college. Which helped me to get an A+ grade. Thus, it’s always good to keep in touch with professional colleagues.
Connecting to friends of friends is still an excellent way to start. You can always ask your friends to introduce you to their friends for help. It is one of the best ways to grow your network.
Let me share the success story of Jimmy Fallon
Within five years, Jimmy Fallon went from unsuccessfully trying in Hollywood to a late night star to becoming a host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show” which is one of the most well-known franchises in the world of entertainment.
Jimmy, dropped from his college to pursue his dream in the comedy field, has started his career by giving auditions. Jimmy’s former boss had sent audition tapes to entertainment agent and later he was hired as a cast member. Jimmy developed a good relationship with his show creator by spending time after the shoots.
Later Jimmy went to try his career at Hollywood where he faced failure and left with an unknown future. Then his old show creator helped him by referring to the show creators of the “The Tonight Show.” Since starting the show in 2014, Jimmy has attracted around 4 million viewers each night
What to talk?
The main goal of networking shouldn’t be asking for help or referral but to build a relationship and develop the bonding such that each one is benefited mutually at the time of potential opportunity.
Staying in touch is not always calling them and having a chat, it can be leaving a short message and asking how they are doing and wish them on their life events like Birthdays and Anniversaries.
If you meet a new person at any networking meeting, you can start with a conversation about the food you are having or the coffee you are sharing. Take the opportunity to talk about their hobbies, be the person who is genuinely interested in what they say. For this, you need to listen to what they speak keenly; thus, the art of listening is the crucial skill you have to master.
Next skill you need to have is asking the right and relevant questions in a conversation. By this, the conversation would become exciting, and there is more chance of the person remember you for a longer time.
Some interesting places to network
Know what your batchmate is doing right now or what your friend from the college cricket team has been up to. Alumni clubs are a great way to revive lost connections.
The easiest way to find Like-minded Business people; who may even require your services or can refer the people who need your assistance.
Best way to build your professional network and a natural medium to connect with the network you are looking for, But expect little of taking to turn those connections into real conversations.
It is the best way to build your resume and also a fantastic way to meet other people.
Annual business meets
Build a professional relationship with your co-workers. Get to know them beyond the connection you share in the office.
Through conferences, you can keep up with your education and spirit to learn things from the industry professionals. You can get people who are ready to mentor you in building a career.
A way to build health and connections, try to interact with people, and who knows if they may bring you some of the best opportunities of your life.
Networking is a simple practice that can open new doors of opportunity for so, never underestimate what a connection can do for you.
Looking for a place to start networking from? Join our LinkedIn group – Premium Technical Jobs.