Have you ever known a colleague that never participated in social activities, avoided all group activities, and managed to keep a very “high wall” around their area in the office? It’s likely that person was not moving up through the ranks, not receiving impressive peer reviews or performance evaluations, and they were not being recognized for outstanding contributions to the organization. The power of networking should not be underestimated because of the many possibilities it can bring forth in personal, career, and business development gains.
Why should we network?
People are not made to thrive alone and that extends deep into the career facet. Individuals should have the intent of seeking to meet others, getting to know a little about them, and reciprocating the exchange of information. When individuals take time to become involved in industry organizations, introduce themselves to peers during training opportunities and seminars, or simply lead committees within their own organization, it helps expand their knowledge base as well as acquaint them with resources that could one day “out of the blue” be the solution in a tight situation. Conversely, networking is not something that should come into play only when resources are needed.
How often should we practice networking?
The practice of networking should be continuous and always top of mind when attending any gathering that involves other participants. Forbes gives a fantastic recommendation of being more concerned with collecting business cards versus giving out your own. Their rationale is that you are at a disadvantage of not being able to make contact unless they reach out to you1. Additionally, networking is at its best when YOU are able to go above and beyond to provide resources, solutions and network connections for others. When people see your willingness to share, they in turn will be encouraged to support your needs when and if the opportunity arises. With Helios, I have personally had the experience of having others reach out to join my network after observing the activity and excitement of events and organizational successes.
Top Three Tips to Networking
We’ve talked about why networking is important, how often we should go out and mingle, and the benefits of having connections. So what are you still doing here? Go out and network! But before you do, here’s one last piece of advice before you go out there — the top three tips to networking:
- Keep your business cards handy and be ready to meet new people. Remember, ask how you can help them first and wait to give your business card out.
- Keep in touch with colleagues, peers, friends and business partners. Having a social and professional network is critical to your personal happiness and career success.
- Be sincere in your networking. Not only look to gain knowledge, insight and new resources, but look for opportunities to freely share what you possess. You never know when networking will be the determining factor in your success!