Networking is one of those things that we are all constantly told we must do more of. So what is it? Why is it relevant to me? And how can I do it properly so I don't waste time? We will tackle these questions and give you our top tips to really make the most of networking opportunities.
What is Networking?
To network is to “interact with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.” So basically it's the grown ups version of making friends and establishing connections with people.
Why is networking relevant to me?
No one can live in complete isolation. We all rely on one another to survive and on an emotional level to be happy. Networking helps you to create a group of people around you that you want to interact with and a happy to rely on.
Sometimes your reliance can be very professional and involve a two way transaction such as the relationship you have with your mechanic or your butcher, you pay money and you get a fixed car or a pork chop. Other relationships are much more personal, you will share information about yourself and you will share your time with another person. Networking is relevant to all of us because it's our opportunity to select who we want to be involved with and how we want to be involved with them.
How can I network properly?
We network unconsciously all the time. Every time we make a purchase or interact with someone we have begun the process of networking. Based upon the service we receive we will choose whether or not to continue that interaction in future.
The type of networking we discuss more often is networking for business purposes. There are now so many different ways of doing this from online platforms such as LinkedIn to events and activities held by local groups and Chambers of Commerce.
Before you do any networking decide what you are trying to achieve. Most people attend networking events to gain something: job leads, referrals, exposure, connections, opportunities to grow their business.
Then think about how you can help others in the room, in the online group or in whatever other group you are using. What you can bring to the table will have a major impact on how you feel when you leave the room.
True networking occurs when there’s an understanding that everyone in the room has equal value.
Great networking is about listening, figuring out what others need and connecting them with people you think can help them. You will be successful if you develop relationships based upon giving.
So how can you do this in a way which means that when you need some help people will be willing and able to help you?
Begin networking before you need to. Think about your goals where are you now and where do you want to be? Now think who you will need to talk to in order to get there. Start meeting people who can introduce you to others, help them as much as you can, gradually your network will widen bringing you closer to the people you really need help and support from.
Before you attend any networking events be really clear about what talents, strengths, skill sets and connections you can bring to the table
Be as open, friendly and honest as you can. Help other people in the room to connect to one another, even if they are not relevant to you at the moment, you will build a reputation as been helpful and well connected and people will be more inclined to do the same for you.
Everyone in the room is important and has some value try to make it your mission to find out what that is. Even if it's not relevant to you if you can connect them to someone else you may spark a chain reaction of great connections.
This all sounds great but you're shy and you don't really know where to begin? Begin your networking efforts by seeking out familiar faces they can be less intimidating than starting a conversation with a complete stranger.
Walk into the room and smile, other people in the room are most probably feeling intimidated too, and they are much more likely to approach the smiley face than the one which is scowling.
So let's get started!
Walk into a room with the intention of being the most open honest fabulous person you can be. Smile, listen carefully to each person you meet, then start to be the glue the person in the room that joins the dots and really helps people. You will come out feeling like you achieved something and you will be remembered for all the right reasons. So that in future when you reach out and ask for a little help people won't hesitate to help you.
Our biggest and best networking that is being done here in The Singles Sisterhood is done in the Community Boards. Members talking to each other, supporting, offering guidance and plenty of tender love and care. And we hope our members love the boards as much as The Sisterhood team does!