Definition of NETWORKING
1. : the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically : the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business (source: Merriam-Webster)
Why is it that a simple word sends shivers down most people spines? Yet, I have encountered a few that actually live for networking and sing its praises from the rooftops. Networking is a necessary evil. However, most of time we are networking and we don’t even realize it. Our network is full of people we see each and every day–our friends, our family, our co-workers, business associates, etc. So yes, you are engaging in the necessary evil and are quite unaware of it! You can get the success you want from tapping into people you already know–and already have genuine relationships with!
If you are looking for a new job, looking for funding, or looking for new clients, networking is a surefire way to make valid connections with people that can help by garnering support, finding leads, and gathering information. Whatever your reason for networking, by relationship-building and trust, you can fulfill your goals.
My advice is to start networking in places you feel comfortable in–do you volunteer or want to volunteer? Find organizations you want to become active in and expand your network while you volunteer for a worthy cause. I have learned to visit quite a few professional and personal interest groups before I felt comfortable in joining and expanding my network through these groups. My network is growing through these in-person meetings but also by social networking. I have found that I actually enjoy networking though honestly I am always a bit nervous but the nerves quickly subside when I start speaking with and interacting with interesting people. I also enjoy the follow-up and seeing how we can develop a mutual beneficial relationship and sometimes start friendships when those that I have networked with!
What are your qualms about networking? What are some of your strategies that lead to networking success?