We’ve all been told that in the working world it’s not what you know, it’s who you know that will open opportunities for success. Networking is a term that has been permanently embedded in our brains, whether you’re at a professional gathering or your second cousin’s- sister’s- son’s first birthday party. We all know that it’s important – in fact, 70% of all jobs are found through networking. The art of developing powerful relationships can do wonders for your work when done in a strategic and thoughtful manner. Here are some tips on how to network and build powerful relationships.
In order to be successful at networking, you must put in your due diligence. Thanks to LinkedIn, finding mutual connections can be done with just a couple of clicks, but the simplicity of this convenience has led to the common misconception that relationship building begins and ends with a little bit of online activity. In reality, there is tangible work that needs to be done in order to create successful connections and relationships. Part of successful networking means researching someone you are interested in meeting and finding something you both have in common.
You are more likely to make a lasting impression or get a positive response from someone if you have already found a shared interest in advance of introducing yourself. The key to how to network is understanding that friends, professional or otherwise, don’t come instantly. Like most things in life, careful nurturing over time may enable the connection grow into a relationship. In this matter, it is important to view networking as a long-term career strategy and that rewards may not happen until later on as a result of genuine persistence.
People often fail at networking when they view it as simply a self-benefiting tool. A recent article about Derek Coburn’s book, Networking is Not Working: Stop Collecting Business Cards and Start Making Connections, suggests that networking isn’t only about yourself, it’s about helping others too. This means using your connections to benefit your clients or other friends. By bringing people together, you create a larger network that invites your clients and friends to include members from their extended network.
By actively keeping in touch through events, dinners and emails, members of your networking group can connect with other like-minded experts. The point is to put your relationships to work connecting as many people within the field as possible, thus creating an ever growing niche network. This is not to say that you should only stick with your professional sector when networking. You can create many different groups that you can tap into. Colette Phillips suggests networking laterally, vertically and horizontally because you may find opportunities in unexpected places.
You don’t need to be a master or an extremely outgoing person to build your network. Taking a moment to ask a question, share useful information or connect like-minded information are simple actions that many people appreciate. As learned by Dr. Richards in my junior year marketing class, don’t forget the four “ups” when networking: read up, show up, listen up and follow up!
Esteban Gomez is a marketing consultant with interviewstream. He loves learning and has a passion for traveling, having visited many countries including China, Colombia, Italy, and Peru.