The term “networking” could sound overly intimidating or even confusing. After all, what is it? What does it mean? How do you even network? What’s the importance of it? In this article, networking as a term will be demystified. You will not only learn what it means, but you will also learn how to leverage its power of it to further your career ambitions.
What Exactly Is It?
If you have ever met someone new and established a relationship that helped you learn something new, achieve a goal, or get something done – you’ve already networked before.
Networking is the act of connecting with others and cultivating relationships that could potentially be mutually beneficial. For instance, when you were in school and you met with other like-minded friends and started a club – that was networking. It doesn’t have to be scary. It’s likely something you’ve done multiple times throughout your life without even knowing it.
What Makes It Important?
Networking is such an integral part of building a successful career. When you are building a career, you will be utilising networking a lot. It’s going to help you find new job opportunities and other professional opportunities. It’s a good way to find clients, gain insights into new positions, or even change industries. It can help you ‘get your foot in the door’ if you want to land a new job.
How To Successfully Network:
- Start with figuring out your network (people you know)
- By the time you have graduated college, you should have established a small network of people. You want to begin by reaching out to them. It can be good practice and it can help you broaden your network. You never know who knows who and what you can gain from their network.
- Who is in your network?
You have an existing network whether you know it or not. Your network likely includes all of your family, friends, roommates, co-workers, and even your neighbours. You want to ask around everyone you know whether or not they have people they know that are looking for something you’re interested in. If you want a job, reaching out to your network can pay big dividends. If you are reading this and a owner of a small business than see small business networking group.
You need to be open to meeting new people. This is true throughout your entire career. However, it’s even more crucial when you are just getting started. You need to go out of your way to find and meet new people. This is a good way to ensure that you are constantly growing your network. Don’t dismiss people based on their limited network. You never know how they could be of help to you in your career.
Seek Out Connections At All Times
Even if you have a job, you shouldn’t take your foot off the gas. You should be networking at all times. You want to continue to reach out and nurture your network even when you think that you are in a good position. You want to be building professional relationships at all times because it’s always going to help you further your ambitions.
Seek Out Opportunities
You will likely be able to join all kinds of professional organisations and networking groups no matter where you are in life. It could be your alumni or something else. You want to join these organisations and start getting to know people in them. This is a great way to branch out your network and find people that you wouldn’t have normally met. This is also a good way to find networks that you can tap into that could target specific niches in which you want to get to know people.
If you are looking to get into networking, but you don’t know where to start, it helps to find a friend. Find someone that has similar interests. You two can go to an event together. Having someone there with you is likely to help ease any anxiety you might have about networking. You’re not the only person that’s going to be nervous at an event. A lot of people have the same anxiety as you. This is important to remember as it can stifle your ambition to go to networking events.
Whenever you are trying to get into networking, you need to focus on the other person too. It’s not all about you. You need to make it about them too. After all, you’re looking to form mutually beneficial connections. You need to build a relationship. Instead of focusing on just yourself, you want to look into focusing on them too. The best way to show interest in them and to learn about them is by asking questions. People love to talk about themselves.
Having a list of questions that you can ask others can help you prepare and keep the conversation going.
Here are some of the best questions to get started:
- Is this an industry that you’ve always been interested in?
- What was your start in the industry? How did that happen?