Today’s post marks the 101st in the CoffeeLunchCoffee.com series. As such, it seems an auspicious time to revisit why any of us should bother with this effort at all. So, let’s get back to basics.
Networking 101: There is no question that networking is an essential tool for any professional, whether presently in or out of a job. And, in this economy, networking is a necessity, not a luxury, at a time when businesses are fundamentally changing with seismic consequences for employees. And, it’s important to know networking is for everyone. That means that networking is for YOU, too.
Networking is simply a term used to describe the practice of connecting with others, of establishing community, and of deepening one’s sense of belonging. Networking is not just about money or finding a job or making a sale or gathering a collection of business cards. It is about establishing and building personal relationships – HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS – for long-term, mutual benefit. If you are effectively networking, you are getting back as much as you are giving and more! You will soon come to discover that networking offers so much more than the chance to get a hot tip on a new business opportunity. Personally, I leave each networking encounter—whether large event or one-on-one conversation — smarter than when I arrived; and, with a new or renewed professional relationship that typically pays dividends for years to come.
Tactically, networking is about knowing how to start and carry on a conversation, and about remaining well-informed. It’s about listening and about being responsive. It’s about building self-confidence and contacts. At times, it’s about wanting something from someone else, but it is also about being generous with your own time, information and resources. Networking is something you should be doing every day, not just when you “need” to.
The best networkers connect with others for long-term relationship building without knowledge of what, specifically, that relationship may ultimately bring to their lives. There is no expectation of payback or remuneration. They are not networking simply to get ahead, or to change jobs, or to develop their sales pipeline. Rather, they are passionate about something, they want to connect and share their interests with others who are equally passionate. It is a virtuous cycle that can have major, long-term, life altering implications.
Convinced? OK… stepping down from my soapbox. Time to get out there and CONNECT with someone!