How much do you know about Networking? Do you know how this keyword can impact your career and life positively? Networking is strategic and should be your career friend. It can get you your dream job and possibly get you anywhere in the career world.
Networking can be formal or informal, however, either way, is a great way to meet people and by also making them maintain a positive connection. Developing a network of contacts can help you with career planning and job hunt. However, you need to make sure that your approach is professional, planned and has clear goals.
Networking and mentoring go hand in hand. You can get your hands on a mentoring scheme through networking. Equally, you may need to improve your personal skills through networking. A lot of people have all they need but lack the proficiency to help them progress further. Hence networking, mentoring and personal skills are important for career advancement.
It is important to keep working at building good connections to increase your knowledge and understanding of your chosen sector as well as to access potential job opportunities and gain useful contacts for the future.
What do personal skills mean?
Personal skills and personnel management skills are similarly related because these are the skills employers look for no matter the field you are in. Personal skills and qualifications are necessary to successfully interact with others in your workplace. Additionally, this allows you to manage yourself and communicate effectively with others.
This skill is further defined as the ability to do something well i.e. a certain competence and proficiency. These skills are acquired or developed through direct experiences and training, and they can require sustained efforts.
Therefore, personal skills are simply those skills that you possess and consider your strengths. On the other hand, personnel management skills are fundamental for the long-term success of an organisation
What is networking and how do we need to go about it?
Networking can be defined in different ways. This can be based on how an individual utilises or see the relevance of this professional activity in their personal life.
The business dictionary defines networking as creating a group of acquaintances and associates and keeping it active through regular communication for mutual benefits. Networking is based on the question “How Can I Help” and not “What can I Get”.
Similarly, The Collins Dictionary further defines it as the process of meeting new people who might be useful to you in your job, often through social activities. These definitions are quite spot on for this is how we need to make use of the networking skill.
To enumerate, whether one network to find a new job, develop their career, discover new career options, obtain referrals and leads, find new friends, or simply to develop their professional horizons, it is vital to focus on networking as an exchange of knowledge, information or contacts.
In any career level, networking helps acquire connections in a personal way likewise developing relationships of encouragement and esteem to determine and create mutual benefits. It is a skill no professional can do without.
The best attributes that a networker can have are curiosity and creative thinking. However, other important networking skills include:
- Talking to people
- Building rapport and relationship
- Listening to people and taking interests in them
- Engaging people’s interest quickly
- Being ready to act on the opportunity.
How to Network
- Introduce yourself: Say your name, shake hands, try to offer or ask for the other person’s business card upon leaving.
- Be concise: Be sure to introduce yourself in seconds and explain your aim.
- Have a purpose: Be prepared, know why you are approaching the person and if possible jot down the questions you would like to ask in advance.
- Keep in Contact: Always follow up with those you have met
- Acknowledge: Be sure to say Thank You for their time and support.
Benefits of networking
- Boosts your self-esteem
- Improves social lifestyle
- Expands your support network
- Develops business contacts.
- Exchange fresh ideas with people
- Makes you more visible
- Opens doors to new opportunities
- It becomes your resource
- Influence things positively
- Allows you to express opinions
Tips for a successful networking meeting
- Be Early
Networking is easier for you if you do not have to walk into a room full of strangers already engaged in conversation and this is why the golden rule is to get there early. Hence, you will be able to catch people as they get in and talk to them on a one-to-one basis and leave before it starts getting too crowded.
- Set Goals
Knowing what you want to get out of every networking meeting is important.
Think of what you can get out of it beforehand and set a goal for the night. It could be talking to two random people or introducing yourself to one specific person. In fact, make sure you stick to whatever your goal is and ensure that you have succeeded in achieving it before leaving the meeting. The smaller the goal you set the more likely you will achieve them.
- Find A Networking Buddy
Certainly, you would be surprised at how much easier this type of function is if you have a support buddy. To this end, not only would you be more open to attending networking events but, you would also be more open to starting conversations with people you have met before, as well as stay longer. Avoid staying too close to your buddy throughout the night as this might discourage others from talking to you.
- Practice Your Elevator Pitch
No matter how much you want to avoid talking and being in the spotlight, there’s simply no way to do it. For this purpose, people will want to find out more about you and being unable to explain who you are, and what you can do, will be seen as a weakness, which is something you definitely do not want. Prepare your elevator pitch and make sure that it sounds natural
- Think Of How You Can Help The People You Meet
While it may be true, you have probably heard that networking should not just be about how other people can help you, but how you can help them as well. To do that, you will need to pay close attention when you are speaking to someone to identify their needs. Consequently, make the most of this exceptional skill by listing ways you can help people while they are talking to you.
- Meet Your LinkedIn Connections In Person
It is worth pointing out that making connections over LinkedIn is not enough. To strengthen the bond and get someone to want to help you boost your career prospects, you need to connect with them on a personal level as well. In short, pluck up the courage; ask your connections to meet with you in person, It will be extremely rewarding.
- Prepare A Few Questions And Ask A Lot Of Questions
In detail, a good tip to get started is to have some conversation topics and questions prepared ahead of time. You can use these to avoid awkward silences and start conversations. Above all, ask other people a lot of questions about their work and themselves.
- Take Time Between Talking To People
Talking to different people can be overwhelming. Thus, go to the bar for a refill or step into the bathroom for a while. Whatever you do, give yourself a break to relax and release the stress.
- Start Conversations With “So What Brings You Here?”
Certainly, the best thing about this question is that it helps to avoid awkward silences, which are inevitable when starting a conversation.
- Plan an Early Exit:
Above all, planning an early exist, like leaving the meeting after one hour or after half an hour can help make things more bearable. Also, if you find yourself enjoying the event, you can always stay longer.