Networking is quite simply the development of mutually beneficial relationships. Some of us are natural networkers. We see it as a strategic activity, really enjoy meeting new people, sharing information and being helpful. Others find it more challenging, often because of the time and energy it requires and the perception of networking. Here are a few thoughts about how to build a network:
Start building now. It’s a long game. Quality networks build slowly and organically. While they can be encouraged with proactive actions, it’s best not to wait to build your network until you really need one for something. By that time it’s too late and you may project an image of being needy, superficial or desperate to connect. Instead, proactively and regularly build time into your calendar to get out of your office to meet and get to know people. Don’t run the risk of suddenly being out of a job or needing help and discovering your network is undeveloped.
For many of us, especially the introverts among us, networking requires us to step out of our comfort zones. It may feel challenging to initiate a meeting or accept invitations to attend events, to speak at conferences, etc. Yes, you may or may not connect successfully with people, but don’t take rejection personally. People are busy, have their own agendas and there may be future opportunities to connect again.
A good network is not a group of people that resemble you and your background. It’s a diverse network including people of mixed backgrounds, skills, connections and experiences. A good network is not about the size of the network but rather the quality of the network. Think strategically about the sort of people that you would like to have in your network. However, you should also remain open minded, welcoming and think about the value of having contacts in different industries, expertise, contacts and viewpoints. At events, rather than gather with people you know, take the opportunity to talk with different people, find out about them, get to know them and expand your network.
Networking is a two way process. Both parties should benefit from the interaction. Don’t think about what you can get out of meeting others but rather what you can offer to others. Thinking of what you can provide (advice, encouragement and support, referrals, etc.) makes the interaction easier and positive. If you can help out in some way, it will be easier in future to ask for help in return. If you are generous, open and positive, it’s more likely that you’ll attract others that will be the same with you.
Think of networking as a long term game to connect and get to know positive, interesting, supportive and helpful people like you.
If you’re struggling to build a network, lacking self-confidence, drive and motivation to get out there and promote yourself, consider working with a coach . I know from my own experience of being coached and from coaching others that coaching makes a difference. It brings out the best in people and inspires them to act on their potential. The right coach will help you tap into your motivation, tackle challenges, embrace change and transform mindsets.
If you’re interested in finding out more about coaching, contact me and let’s have an exploratory conversation about what you would like to be different in your life in 2019.
I’m a qualified and accredited coach with a successful track record or working around the world with international companies and clients. I coach Face to Face or via Zoom/Skype/Facetime